Sexually active students are advised to avail of DCU’s free testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) due to an increase of Chlamydia sufferers, according to the HSE.
A total of 1,765 STIs have been reported this year alone by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and 1085 of them were reports of chlamydia, otherwise known as ‘The Clap’, Ireland’s most popular STI amongst 20-29 year olds.
In an effort to tackle the spread of STIs, the Union of Students Ireland (USI) erected a campaign known as Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance (SHAG) week last year.
DCU launched a similar campaign called SHIFT week, lest anyone be uncomfortable by the word SHAG. This kind of discomfort surrounding the most literal form of sex talk could be the cause of an STI increase nationwide.
“I don’t actually know what Chlamydia is or does if I’m honest, or what half of the others are either. All I know is that you try and avoid them by having a condom handy but that’s not always the case”, said DCU Communications student Kelly Quinn.
Although we might be screaming “i’m feeling sexual” in the middle of Coppers, when it comes to talking about the bare facts we tend to tense up. Irish people are notorious for our embarrassment and sometimes disrespect for all things concerning the topic of sex.
This was demonstrated by some on the ‘No’ campaign during the same sex marriage referendum. Perhaps it is due to years of Catholic guilt passed down through the generations that made us believe we were a nation immaculately conceived, or the rise of the smartphone and our perfect, filtered STI free worlds we have created for ourselves that has caused our dismissive attitude towards sex.
There are many myths surrounding STIs and most of them are completely false. Some people say that STIs cannot be cured but this is not true in all cases.
Most STIs are caused by a bacterial infection and can be cured with treatment. These include gonorrhoea, syphilis, and chlamydia. However, HIV and herpes which are viral cannot be cured but can be effectively managed.
Another common myth is that you cannot get or pass on an STI from oral sex. This is also untrue. You can receive and pass on an STI from oral sex. These include herpes and thrush and that is why it is advised to still use protection when partaking in oral sex.
Maintaining a healthy sexual lifestyle as an adult is proven to be beneficial to your mental health. Sex is a natural stress reliever, releases endorphins and is the purest form of natural happiness and pleasure. This should not be affected by the fear of getting an STI. The pill may stop your chances of getting pregnant but condoms stop your risk of contracting an STI. Condoms are always available in the SU and in the reception of the campus GP.
“No one would judge you for wearing a raincoat when it’s raining so why not carry and wear a condom”, said Eimear Corri a DCU Sports Science student.