Over the past couple of years the sexually transmitted disease (STD) chlamydia has been steadily on the rise nationwide, as well as on campus. Chlamydia is also known as “the silent STD” because most people who are infected initially do not show any signs or symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Chlamydia has been on the rise for the past 20 years, with 1.3 million cases reported nationwide in 2010.
The results from St. Cloud State’s 2014 College Student Health survey, reports that 10.5 percent of sexually active students were diagnosed with a STD, and 5.4 percent of those students were diagnosed with chlamydia, making it the most common STD on campus.
Troy Bjerkness, a health promotion graduate assistant for SCSU Student Health Services, has started to take action to help lower the number of cases around campus.
When talking about the number of STD’s on campus in general, Bjerkness stated, “Those who have three or more sexual partners are three times as likely to catch an STD than those who have had who have had one in the last 12 months,” According to Bjerkness these numbers are based off student health service’s 2014 survey of the student population as well.
To get more help in fighting the number of cases of STD’s and chlamydia, Bjerkness wrote a grant and was able to get funding from the North Central College Health Association. The grant helped Student Health Services launch a campaign of STD and Chlamydia awareness, giving presentations in classrooms and dorms, displaying posters and handing out informational cards across campus.
Another service Student Health Services are offering is free chlamydia testing for SCSU students. Bjerkness said that the test is very easy and does not take a great amount of time, and in any case of an STD the earlier you know you have it, the easier and quicker it is to treat.
“These free tests are unique because SCSU offers no other free STD test except chlamydia,” Bjerkness said, when explaining how the grant had helped them tackle the growing problem.
SCSU Student Health Services recommends that all sexual active people under the age of 25 get tested, as well as anyone who as been active with multiple partners in the last 12 months.
The risks of going untreated for women involve permanent damage to their reproductive system, infertility, and increased chance of contracting Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. The risks of complication for men being less pronounced, with most long-term symptoms being fever and pain, as well as the ability to pass it onto their partner.
“Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting chlamydia, but when young people contract it and don’t get it treated is when the number of compilations later on can be serious,” Bjerkness said.
“Chlamydia is easily treatable, all it takes in an antibiotic and following the instructions of your healthcare provider, it is not as complicated to treat because Chlamydia is a bacterial infection,” Bjerkness said.
“If you feel that you are at risk of getting a STD you are strongly urged to get tested and take your health into your own hands. It can only benefit you,” explained Bjerkness. Sending the message clear that Student Health Services is here to help students who may be at risk, and to help stop the rise of chlamydia.
Students who would like to get tested can go to health services located on the first floor of Hill Hall, or visit the Student Health Services website for more information.