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Event promotes healthy sex life

By | April 25, 2012 | News

“Get Yourself Tested” informed students of the resources available on and
off campus on how to live a healthy lifestyle and practice safe sex.
Community Hospital and the campus Health Center were among the
participants on Tuesday.
Stephen Keleher / The Collegian

“Test yourself before you wreck yourself!” was the slogan some students heard Tuesday morning in front of the Student Union as they were handed condoms, buttons, pamphlets and even stickers. The message was urged by student volunteers and community advocacy group members to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.

“Eighty percent of the new HIV diagnosis in Fresno County comes from the 18 to 26 age group,” said Lynn Sharp, head of We Care, an advocacy group for Community Hospital. “What’s really sad is that age group. By the time they come in for testing, they’re coming in with full-blown AIDS.”

Community Hospital was among some of the supporters that had tables set up where students could stop and talk to the volunteers.

Most people affected by STDs are between the ages of 15 and 24 and most do not know they are infected. The statistics are cause for concern: one in two sexually active Americans will get an STD before they turn 26. April is national STD awareness month.

The event was created by public health assistant professor Gregory Thatcher, based on the national Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign created in partnership by the Center for Disease Control and MTV.

It’s the third time in as many semesters that the event has been staged on campus.

“The past two times we’ve actually had Fresno County come out with its testing van but they weren’t able to accommodate us this time,” Thatcher said.  “We still feel like getting the information out is important.”

Some find the testing to be easy and painless. Some STD tests are as simple as a urine test or a cheek swab and others require a finger prick or a blood sample. Results from the test are available in as little as 20 minutes.

Those participating in the event were students in Thatcher’s community health class, the University Health Center, which offers testing and birth control for students at low or no cost, We Care and the Mar Monte chapter of Planned Parenthood.

Thatcher said it’s not just about getting tested; It’s about having safe sex, reducing the amount of alcohol involved and making appropriate decisions about sexual activity.

“We had an issue just last week on campus with a human sexuality professor,” Thatcher said.

Thatcher was referring to lecturer Peggy Gish, who received international attention after being accused of showing a pornographic film in class.

“Our table event is just one more type of awareness,” Thatcher said.

The tables were filled with pamphlets on information for STDs from NGU to HPV, female facts, male facts and many helpful volunteers ready to answer any question on testing and safe sex a student might have. In addition, the Health Center was actively recruiting for peer health educators for fall 2012. Open to all majors, the positions offer students a chance to get hands-on experience in the health-related field.

Other positions open for student volunteers are in the alcohol safety and student health advisory committees and the wellness ambassador program.

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