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Silent Chlamydia Outbreak on Campus

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Photo Courtesy of NPR

Article Written by Mikaela Wall

While Roanoke College was in the midst of a flu outbreak, another silent infection was being spread around: chlamydia. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection common amongst college students, easily curable but easily transmitted.

A huge part if college culture is the common “hook up” culture. This means coeds will participate in casual sexual activity, typically only one time with one person. These hook ups usually happen late at night when one or both party’s is intoxicated which can lead to forgetting or disregarding basic sexual knowledge, like wearing a condom.

“No glove, no love” says senior Kelly Wood, simple yet wise words RC students should live by. Junior Haley Ryan expressed her frustration with this issue. “My biggest annoyance is that people have the information and the knowledge, but they actively act against it,” she said. “Boys and girls both know the easiest way to have safe sex is to use a condom but still both parties engage in unsafe sex then get upset when they get chlamydia.”

Another problem with chlamydia is that it is asymptomatic. Ryan is aware of this issue. She says, “It [chlamydia] is such a big outbreak because chlamydia is asymptomatic and people might not know they have it, so then they continue to spread it”. At one point, 24% of an unnamed fraternity had chlamydia. Junior Mary Cywinski commented on this statistic saying, “I think it’s hilarious.” It is presumed this number has dropped because chlamydia is curable, but when students sleep in around in the same circles and do not use protection, it can lead to a quarter of one organization to have an STI.

Sophomore Lydia Bates said, “I heard about it because the school is so small, word travels fast,” just like chlamydia. “Now that more people you know of have it, everyone becomes a lot more aware of what goes on. It’s scary because you want to keep yourself and your friends safe; it has a very negative connotation.”

Bates is right. STI’s have a very negative connotation to them because sex has a negative connotation to it. There is nothing wrong with having sex or a drunk casual “hook up” but when it becomes unsafe, that is when it becomes an issue. Bates goes on to say, “I think people should practice more safe sex, no matter the situation. The school does a good job at promoting safe sex, but not a lot of students execute it. People think of safe sex as just not getting pregnant, but it is much more than that. You should always be prepared.”

Wearing a condom is a lot more than just preventing pregnancy, as some RC students experienced first-hand. RC openly talks about safe sex on campus, which leads to an inviting and comfortable environment to talk about these issues. In addition, Health Services and even some RA’s have condoms available, for free, whenever students may need them.

This outbreak may be something RC wants to keep on the down low, but at least the school is continuing to take the steps they believe are the most important towards a safe and comfortable sexual environment on campus. This is part of college culture and to ignore it would only lead to more problems.