Higher STI rates, more cases reported so far this year than last

By Jarrod Thacker

The UK HealthCare University Health Services is reporting high numbers of diagnosed sexually transmitted infections for 2011 so far.

According to information compiled by UHS Health Education Coordinator Brandy Reeves and reviewed by Nurse Practitioner Joanne Brown, UHS has diagnosed 46 cases of chlamydia and nine cases of gonorrhea in 2011.

This differs from the previous year which had 117 cases of chlamydia and 18 cases of gonorrhea for the entire year.

“That’s half (of the results from 2010), and we’re only months into the year,” Reeves said.

Reeves explained that these statistics also may not include additional patients who have been diagnosed since spring break, suggesting that the rates could be even higher.

The UHS representatives said they tend to observe an increase in STIs after spring break because of students traditionally conducting more risky actions, “including high-risk drinking and high-risk sex.”

Although the UHS does not possess any hard evidence as of right now, there are several variables that could explain the upsurge in venereal infections.

“Based on other research and anecdotal evidence, students could be using condoms less often,” Reeves said. “Students could also have more sexual partners.”

“(I) believe that STD rates rise and fall due to the level of adherence and common sense one uses to the prevention guidelines,” Dr. Richard N. Greenberg, professor of Medicine, said.

UHS says the most effective method to avoid STIs is to practice abstinence. UHS also suggests limiting the number of sexual partners, engaging in sexual activity with only one person and using contraceptives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STIs like chlamydia often do not show any symptoms.

The UHS informs students that the only way to be certain that an infection has occurred is to be tested by a health care provider.

Students who have paid the health fee can be screened for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis for free, and will receive treatment and information on how to reduce the risk for STIs if they test positive.

To schedule an appointment with the UK HealthCare Uni­­versity Health Service call 323-APPT.