High school graduates are headed off to college to begin their first semester as “adults.” Many are looking forward to experiencing college life, meeting new people while being free from the rules of their parents. The furthest thought from their minds are the unwanted consequences of partying recklessly…pregnancy and/or contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease). An STD (which includes HIV/AIDS), also called STI (sexually transmitted infection), is an infection spread from person to person through shared bodily fluids during vaginal, anal or oral sex – and sometimes by genital touching. Experts at the New Jersey AIDS/HIV/STD hotline want to warn students of the risks of having unprotected sex with their partners.
Along with studying, exams and papers comes parties, drugs and sex. Easy access to alcohol and drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal) creates the perfect storm for lowering inhibitations and engaging in high risk sexual behavior. Anyone can be infected by having unprotected sex with an infected partner. A person is at risk if he/she has ever been or is currently sexually active. Keep in mind alcohol consumption greatly affects one’s decision making ability. The more alcohol one consumes, the more likely he/she is to have unprotected sex with his/her partner. The more alcohol one ingests the more likely he/she is to receive unwanted attention and/or sexual advances.
Be aware that the use of emergency contraception like the Morning-After Pill, Plan B, and Ella will not provide protection to women against the spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS. If you have had unprotected sex and are unsure if you have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, experts recommend getting tested immediately. Having unprotected sex may put you at risk for contracting an STD and HIV. The appropriate use of latex condoms significantly decreases one’s risk of STDs including HIV.
The risk of contracting and spreading STDs, HIV and hepatitis must be taken seriously – they do not discriminate. All sexually active individuals must practice safe sex by correctly using protection, condoms, every time he/she is sexually active. STDs are very common and can cause serious illness if untreated. Many STDs have few or no symptoms especially HIV. If you are sexually active, we urge you to learn how to reduce your risk of exposure and get tested. Testing is the ONLY way to know for sure.
Don’t wait! Get tested! The sooner an STD is found the sooner treatment can begin. Some STDs can be cured while others can only be treated, not cured. Ignoring an STD won’t make it go away. Early testing can help find STDs before symptoms show, so treatment can be started as soon as possible; helping to prevent the further spread of infection.
If you are looking to find a free, state-funded testing site near you for initial testing or follow-up or have questions about HIV/AIDS, STDs, or hepatitis, contact us (The New Jersey AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline) either by calling 800-624-2377, text/email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat via our site at www.njhivstdline.org. We are always here to help 24hours a day/ 7 days a week! Calls are free and confidential.
Services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year
· Referrals for testing sites and other related services
· HIV/AIDS, STD and Hepatitis Prevention Information
· HIV Counseling and Treatment Locations
· HIV Treatment Information