Monday, August 8, 2022

Events educate U about STDs

April 12, 2001

While Olin Health Center educators say people should be conscious every day about sexually transmitted diseases and the dangers surrounding them, the health center will be sponsoring events throughout April for Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month.

“Every day is awareness day for us,” Olin Health Educator Dennis Martell said. “We have a lot we try to do all year round.”

Martell said the main focus for STD awareness on campus usually comes in the first six weeks of school in the fall.

“That is when people tend to be less careful about their actions,” he said. “We have found only 50 percent of sexually active students are using condoms.

“That means there is another 50 percent that may be exposing themselves to risk.”

In addition to the center’s concentration of programs in the beginning of the school year, Martell said there will be events taking place throughout the month.

The health educators will host condom distributions in local bars, The In Your Face Reality Troupe - whose members use drama performances to educate people about sexual behaviors - will hold performances and there will also be a session of Sex In the Dark, where health advocates turn off the lights and participants are free to ask questions they might not normally want to ask in front of a group.

Sexual Health Team member Lee Haselhuhn said the members try to integrate STD awareness into everything they do.

“When we go to the bar to distribute condoms we will also be playing games and passing out information on STDs,” the physiology senior said. “There is usually a great response when we integrate these other activities into our events.”

Haselhuhn said the team members will also have an information booth at a carnival hosted by Yakeley and Gilchrist halls on April 21.

“Members of the sexual health team will be there talking to students about STDs and making sure everyone is getting accurate information,” he said. “We want to promote positive sexuality for students.”

Advertising senior Jennifer Andrews, who has seen the health team members passing out condoms and information on campus in the past, said she thinks it is a good way to reach out to students.

“When you see someone coming at you with a condom you are going to listen to what they have to say,” she said. “It’s important that people have the information but a lot of times they are not going to try to find it themselves.

“I think it’s great they are making the efforts to make sure people know what is going on.”

STD Awareness Month is sponsored nationally by the American Social Health Association, and according to spokesman Michael Stalker more than 15 million cases of STDs will occur this year in the U.S.

“Anyone that is sexually active is at risk for getting an STD,” he said. “A lot of times when someone has one they don’t even know it.

“The only way to be sure is to get tested.”

Stalker said the importance of getting tested for STDs is the main message of this year’s campaign.

He said information will be distributed to doctors, educators and parents telling them the best way to get the message out.

“Each audience we are targeting can say the message very effectively to someone else,” Stalker said. “To the doctors we’ll say ‘these people getting a disease this year could be your patients’ and to parents we’ll say ‘these could be your children.’

“It makes the message very real.”

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