SU doubles up on testing clinics as STI rates hit a record high

SU doubles up on testing clinics as STI rates hit a record high

Two more free and confidential STI screening clinics are slated for the spring.
Published: November 15, 2018
Syracuse University's Health Services is located at 111 Waverly Ave.
This year, Syracuse University's Office of Health Promotions and Health Services increased the number of free and confidential STI testing days offered to students.

Syracuse University’s Office of Health Promotions has organized four free STI testing clinics to take place during the 2018-2019 school year, which is double the amount of testing clinics that were offered last year. Working in conjunction with SU Health Services, the Office of Health Promotions has already offered two free and confidential STI screening clinics this semester. Both testing events lasted two days and took place in late September and early November. The office plans to offer two more STI screening clinics in the spring.

STI rates are at a record high in the United States. They increased by approximately 200,000 cases in 2017, according to a report from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2017, there were more than 1.7 million cases of chlamydia, 45 percent of which occurred in females aged 15 to 24. Cases of gonorrhea increased 67 percent in 2017, while the infection doubled among men. Syphilis diagnoses increased by 67 percent.

Rates of chlamydia and syphilis also increased in Onondaga County in 2017, according to a report by the Onondaga County Health Department. Conversely, cases of gonorrhea declined in the county.

Michelle Goode, a Health Promotion Specialist at the Office of Health Promotions, speculated that a lack of comprehensive sexual education is to blame for the increase. “I think if folks aren’t learning how to properly use barrier methods, that’s concerning,” said Goode.

This is also why Goode emphasized providing opportunities for students to get tested. “Although we recognize that [STI] rates are increasing, for us it’s really been about increasing access in a college population where we know folks could be partaking in risky sexual activities without using protection,” Goode said.

While SU’s Health Services offers STI testing year-round, additional insurance costs can prevent some students from getting tested.

Still, there are other barriers.

“Some students might be on their parents’ health insurance and that insurance is all charged through billing codes,” said Goode. “A savvy parent could look up what that billing code means. We know for some students, there might be some fear of talking to their parents about being sexually active.” 

According to Goode, over 150 people attended each testing day held by the Office of Health Promotions and Health Services. Their next free and confidential STI screening session will be held on February 14th and February 15th, 2019.

The Office of Health Promotions also strives to provide students with access to sexual health supplies to help prevent the spread of STIs. In December 2017, the Office of Health Promotions launched their Safer Sex Express program, which provides free sex supply packages to students. Packages including condoms and lubricant can be ordered directly to a student’s dorm. For those who live off campus, supplies can be picked up at the Office of Health Promotions at 111 Waverly Ave. 

Health Services offers STI testing year-round, including one free HIV test per year. STI testing is also covered under SU’s health insurance plan. Call (315) 443-9005 to schedule an appointment.

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is a magazine major with an interest in arts and culture.