Web forum answers student’s sex questions

By Cassandra Sandoval

Special to The Collegian

While sex can be a taboo subject to discuss, Fresno State offers students a chance to get more information on the steamy topic through Go Ask Alice!, a national health information website that answers questions they have regarding sexual health.

Go Ask Alice! covers information such as fitness, relationships, drugs, alcohol and emotional health. Students can submit questions and review previously posted questions and answers.

Go Ask Alice! consists of a team of medicine and health promotions experts. The site is produced and funded by Columbia University in New York and has been up and running since 1993. Experts with degrees in public health, medicine and counseling answer questions about the various health topics.

“It’s important to understand that Go Ask Alice! is a health information website,” said Phung Tran,a spokesman for health communication and public health at Columbia University.

Brandie Howard, 25, a peer health educator at Fresno State, has been involved in promoting new ways to help students understand sexual health. The Student Health Center at Fresno State recognized that some students were insecure about opening up about their sexual health.

Howard said students feel more comfortable with sex when they can research the topic on a health website.

“It’s probably a nice way to break the ice for them before seeking advice,” Howard said. “Go Ask Alice! gives students the comfortable atmosphere to remain anonymous, so they do not have to feel afraid.”

Howard said that many students live busy lives with school and work, so sometimes they do not have time to stop by the Health Center. The website is also accessible on mobile devices.

Tran said it provides readers with reliable and accessible information, though it should not replace consultations from an actual health care professional.

“When you look at this age group of 18-25, it is a very heavily hit population when it comes to STIs,” said Kathy Yarmo, coordinator for Health Promotion and Wellness Services.

The website is a way for students to access information before coming into the Student Health Center. It is a starting point to gather information for individuals who suspect they may have a sexually transmitted disease or sexually transmitted infection.

The center has promoted programs it offers through its peer educators. Some of the programs include Family Pact, the Leash Program, and the Condom Access Project, which can provide Fresno State students with free condoms.