The Graham Health Center Offers Free STD Testing on Fridays

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The Graham Health Center Offers Free STD Testing on Fridays

The Graham Health Center offers free tests for STI's on Fridays.

The Graham Health Center offers free tests for STI's on Fridays.

Mary Mitchell

The Graham Health Center offers free tests for STI's on Fridays.

Mary Mitchell

Mary Mitchell

The Graham Health Center offers free tests for STI's on Fridays.

Mary Siring, Staff Reporter

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The Graham Health Center is combating sexually transmitted diseases and infections among students by offering free urine testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea on Fridays. The GHC is calling the service “Free Pee Fridays.”

“This age group has the highest percentage of sexually transmitted infections with chlamydia and gonorrhea,” said Nancy Jansen, a nurse practitioner at the GHC. “We have participated in this free grant screening for close to 10 years now.”

The results come back to patients within a week and are completely confidential. Treatment is offered at the GHC as well. While the test is for both chlamydia and gonorrhea, chlamydia holds a bigger focus for GHC as it is much easier to treat.

“We have screened over 1,000 students in those 10 years,” Jansen said. “We have about an 8 percent positivity rate of people with no symptoms.”

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and most individuals who test positive do not show any symptoms. The initial damage that chlamydia causes will often go unnoticed, as substantial symptoms are usually rare. However, chlamydia can lead to serious health problems.

Untreated, the infection can spread to a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes, causing pelvic inflammatory disease. Even if the infection spreads, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease often has no symptoms and can cause permanent damage to the reproductive system and even fatal ectopic pregnancy, which is pregnancy that occurs outside the womb.

Chlamydia, for this reason, is the number one cause of infertility in women.

“So that is why the federal government is funding this. They don’t fund things unless there’s a purpose,” Jansen said. “They fund things that have a specific health problem that are easily curable.”

Unlike AIDs and HPV that are incurable, viral STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea have a rather simple solution.

“It is very treatable, you just take a pill,” said OU student Sarah Smyth, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, that tested positive for the infection. “Some people take four pills one time, others take two one time, others take two pills a day for a week. It just depends on what the doctor prescribes you.”

Many OU students have not been taking advantage of the program.

“It is recommended that all young women under the age of 25 get this urine test every year,” Jansen said. “A lot of women are not getting this test. Of the people that I see here, well over half if not three-fourths do not get it.”

Smyth found out that she had contracted the infection when was getting a routine pap smear.

“I felt shocked and I cried because having an STD was one of those things that could never happen to me,” Smyth said. “When in reality most people have it and have no idea that they have it. I had absolutely no symptoms and still do not.”

Regardless of the number of partners you have had or the gender, the yearly testing recommendation still applies.

“Any partner that your partner has had puts you at risk,” said Jansen. “It is worth being tested just for your own personal peace of mind.”