The Commerce Journal

April 1, 2013

University to administer free STD testing

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — A new strain of the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Gonorrhea hit the shores of the United States this year, causing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to up their awareness for people to practice safe-sex.

The new strain is resistant to most forms of antibiotics, and the ones they are using to treat it now are becoming less effective.

Although the STD has not made its way to Texas A&M University-Commerce yet, Debbie Heitholt, health educator for A&M-Commerce Student Health Services, said there are plenty of other dangerous STDs.

“We see mostly Chlamydia contractions,” she said, adding that 70 percent of women and 50 percent of men who have it don’t realize it. “The disease can make women infertile.”

Through the health services, Heitholt is able to administer 20 free STD tests per week for students, and she is able to treat the students who test positive for free through their program.

According to Heitholt, if a student is symptomatic when they come in, she will refer them to the Dallas County health services for more rigorous treatment and antibiotics.

Along with testing for STDs, Heitholt gives STD prevention tips to students wanting to stay clean.

There is one sure way to prevent an STD, Heitholt said, but that prevention is growing less popular as the days pass.

“Abstinence is the best defense,” she said. “Most college kids say everybody is doing it. But in real life that is not necessarily true.”

Heitholt said if a student does not want to wait until marriage, then they should wait until they are in a committed monogomous, mutually respected relationship before they make that decision.

A group that has been hit hard by various STDs, and the more serious HIV strain, is the LGBQT community.

“Man on man have higher chances of contracting an STD,” she said. “And once that happens, it increases the chance of HIV.”

According to the CDC, In 2011, Men who have sex with Men (MSM) accounted for 79 percent of HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 years and older.

Heitholt said that members of the LGBQT community need to be more aware than others on practicing safe sex.

The health services is hosting an STD awareness day on April 2, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., inside Henderson Hall. The event is designed to teach students about STD prevention and give free tests.

“We will have t-shirts made and condoms to pass out during the event,” she said, adding that students do not need an appointment to get tested.

“We will be taking urine and blood samples, so come with a full bladder.”