Free, confidential and easily treated: Graham Health Center offers STD testing

Taylor McDaniel, Staff Reporter

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One in two people will get a sexually transmitted disease by the time they are 25 years old.

In fact, the STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia reached an all-time high in 2017. This was the fourth year in a row these infections had rapidly increased in the United States. Nancy Jansen, director of the Graham Health Center, confirmed the number of cases is rising for both STDs.

STDs are on the rise despite young people having less sex, according to the Archives of Sexual Behavior journal.

Why?

There are many theories: from the increase in casual dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, to the rise in high-risk sexual behaviors associated with opioid use and addiction, and the fact that fewer people are wearing condoms while participating in sex. Condoms are the only way to prevent STDs — other than not having sex at all — and that not only includes vaginal sex, but oral and anal as well.

In a 2017 survey of Oakland University students by the American College Health Association, of those who reported participating in vaginal intercourse, only 61.7% used a condom as a form of contraception, leaving the other roughly 40% of students vulnerable.

“Honestly, what I really think it has to do with is that people engage in risky behaviors a lot of times because they think it won’t happen to them,” said Dr. Annette Feravich, a special lecturer at OU.

Luckily, the Graham Health Center on campus provides free urine testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea — the first and second most common notifiable conditions in the United States, respectively. The free testing is provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between July 2018 and July 2019, 272 people took the test. Out of these almost 300 people, 14% tested positive for either chlamydia or gonorrhea. These diseases are often easily treatable, though they have serious and permanent consequences if left undetected. 

For women, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. If not caught early, severe consequences of PID can lead to long-term pelvic/abdominal pain, Fallopian tubal blockage, ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy occurring outside the womb) and infertility. Although rare, men can also become sterile from an untreated STD. 

Jansen said the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends sexually active people — especially women ages 15-24 — get tested once a year.

Testing at the GHC is available any time the office is open. There is a short form to fill out, you give a urine sample — be sure to leave an hour between the last time you urinate and supply the sample — and then you’re all set. 

The office will contact you if the results are positive to get you in right away for treatment ($10 for medication in office). Jansen also mentioned that if a patient is uncomfortable with the office contacting them, the patient can reach out instead. 

“Once you begin treatment, [STDs] are eliminated from your body within seven days, if not sooner,” Jansen said.

Simple, easy, quick, classified and convenient — it just takes a few minutes to prevent potentially lifelong problems. Plus, you get a sticker on your way out.

The GHC will be hosting a sexual health expo on Thursday, Sept. 12 that includes additional information on on-campus resources for sexual health, as well as free STD testing. For more information on the Graham Health Center and other upcoming events hosted by the center, visit oakland.edu/ghc.