Use protection when participating in sexual activity

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise, both nationwide and in Allegheny County. According to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, there has been a 6 percent increase in cases of chlamydia and a 22 percent increase in cases of gonorrhea and syphilis in the county in 2012 compared to 2011.

This increase may stem from the rise in the number of people who are willing to get screened, or it may reveal an actual increase in STDs in the county. Either way, Carnegie Mellon students must remain cautious when participating in sexual activities in order to prevent the spread of STDs.

The importance of sexual protection may seem straightforward, but it cannot be stressed enough. Although some students may feel that using protection is so obvious that it doesn’t need to be discussed, 2010’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviors found that only one in four acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. The numbers rise to one in three among single people. However, this number still only signifies a small percentage of adults that use condoms during vaginal sex.

According to a study conducted by the American College Health Association in 2009, 61 percent of surveyed students at Carnegie Mellon engaged in either oral, vaginal, or anal sex within the past year; a survey performed by The Tartan in 2011 found the same statistic. This percentage is only slightly lower than the national average of 66.5 percent, which allows for generalization of national statistics to the Carnegie Mellon community.

Approximately 6,300 undergraduate students are currently enrolled at the university; approximately 3,800 of those people have had sex in the last year. The National Survey’s results suggest that around 2,550 of these people did not use protection during that encounter. The fact that 2,550 out of 3,800 sexually active students do not use protection is both worrying and dangerous.

Unprotected sex is a risky proposition. Students must understand these risks, and protect themselves accordingly. Condoms, dental dams, and other forms of barriers protect not only students, but also their partners.

To protect themselves, students can take advantage of the resources and events that Student Health Services offers, such as Free Condom Friday.

As STDs are on the rise in Allegheny County, protected sex benefits everyone.