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10 Truly Shocking Stats On STDs and College Students

May 17th, 2010


During your time in nursing school, you're bound to run into a few lessons on the dangers of STDs in your patients. But as a college student, have you considered your own risk of STDs? These shocking statistics will show you just how prevalent these diseases really are and how few students are really prepared to safeguard themselves against them.

  1. One in four college students has an STD. If college students think they aren't at risk of getting an STD, then these are some serious numbers to consider. It is estimated that one in four college students will contract an STD during their time at school. In the larger population, this works out to 50% of people getting an STD at some time in their life. Because of the prevalence of STDs in the college population, students should be extra vigilant about protecting themselves.
  2. Only 54 percent of students regularly use condoms during vaginal intercourse, 29 percent during anal intercourse and only 4 percent during oral sex. These numbers are saddeningly low and perhaps the reason that STD levels are so high among students. While many schools and communities provide free condoms and sexual education courses, many students are not taking advantage or choose not to use the resources they provide and putting themselves at a very high risk for potentially life-changing infections.
  3. A 2004 survey conducted by CDC researcher Dr. Sarah Forhan tested 838 teen girls for four STDs. Of these girls, 18 percent had the Human Papillomavirus, 4 percent had Chlamydia, 2.5 percent has Trichomoniasis and 2 percent had the Herpes Simplex Virus. While some of these STDs are treatable, many are not and will be carried with these young girls and their sexual partners for life. Most, if not all, women in the study were unaware that they had an STD.
  4. Overall, the CDC estimates that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, almost half among 15- to 24-year-olds. College is a time when many young people choose to explore their newfound freedom. Part of this can be engaging in potentially unsafe sexual situations. Perhaps that is why STD rates are so much higher among teens and young adults than they are with any other age group. It's a powerful statistic to keep in mind for those entering the college dating scene.
  5. 80% of people who have a sexually transmitted disease experience no noticeable symptoms. This often means that since they have no reason to believe that anything is wrong with them they will be unlikely to visit a doctor to be checked out, allowing them to transmit the disease to other partners. Students need to keep in mind that just because you can't see the effects of an STD doesn't mean it's not there.
  6. One study of college students showed that in 91 percent of women with new HPV infections, HPV became undetectable within two years. HPV is the number one sexually-transmitted disease on college campuses. It might be the number one disease, but the majority of those infected with it won't have any actual signs of carrying the disease, even though it can still be transmitted to another partner. Some HPV infections resolve themselves, but other kinds can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Students should take advantage of HPV vaccines, now widely available, to help protect themselves.
  7. Over 45% of college freshmen who have been binge drinking and under the influence of alcohol failed to consider the usage of contraceptive aids when engaging in sexual intercourse. 15% of these students contracted and/or spread STD's amongst other college students with 7% of these infected students unaware of their condition. Many times, alcohol can play a big role in unsafe sexual practices, especially with college students. Students should avoid binge drinking if they want to be extra careful about reducing their STD risk.
  8. More than half the participants in a study done among college students believe they can tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them. As we've seen in other statistics on this list, that's simply not the case. The vast majority of people with STDs have no idea they have them because they have no symptoms of the disease. No matter how someone dresses, acts or looks, there is no way to physically tell with a reliable degree of accuracy whether or not someone has an STD just by looking. Even if there were, it's better to be safe than sorry.
  9. 87% of men know how to use a condom correctly and 70% believe men should carry a condom at all times "just in case, but only 60% of women know how to use a condom correctly and a whopping 60% also say they would still have sex even if their partner refused to wear a condom. This is a case where women have to step up and protect themselves from STDs. Most college campuses offer classes that will teach women about safe sex, condoms and how to protect themselves. Of course, it is also important to learn that some partners, even those you really like, aren't worth having unprotected sex with if it puts you at risk of getting an STD.
  10. As much as 60% of women in the same survey reported that they are in committed relationships while only 38% of men reported the same. Relationships can be tricky things to define, and if you're in one, you want to make sure that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to where you stand. You might think you're only sleeping with each other, but the reality could be very different and very scary.


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