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Kelly, a junior at Cleveland State, teaching others in a creative way about sexual health


Feb. 26, 2018

Yes to Sex means Yes to Test

Sex is present in everything, from advertisements and tv to movies and music. There's even a phrase to encapsulate its superabundance – sex sells.

With the massive presence of sex, what is often lacking is the education and practice of safe sex.

Having a sexually transmittted disease (STD) like chlamydia or gonorrhea is far more common than many think. One in two young people will have an STD by the time they are 25, according to medical experts. Anyone saying yes to sex should be saying yes to test, according to health care providers, who encourage open communication about which tests are right for each person.

Medical personnel diagnose about 3.6 million cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the United States each year and more than 3.7 million infections of trichomoniasis, a parasitic infection. Fifty percent of gonorrhea infections and 65 percent of chlamydia infections occur in young people aged 15-24, according to medical experts. Often chlamydia, gonorrhea or trichomoniasis exist without signs or symptoms, especially in women.

Denise E. Keary, the health and wellness coordinator at Cleveland State University, along with Marzena Jakubowski, the key account executive at LabCorp, strived to change this with the event, Yes Means Test! LabCorp provided the materials and supplies needed to conducts STD screenings at Cleveland State Feb. 13 and Feb.15.

Hologic, a partner company, provided the educational component about STDs and testing, and together they focused in particular on gonorrhea and chlamydia.

“The event took place on the student center bridge because we wanted to catch the attention of the most students possible,” Keary said. “This event promotes sexual health among young people.”

While half of all new STDs occur in individuals 15 to 24 years old, only 12 percent have been tested for STDs in the past year.

Keary emphasized that testing needs to take place if someone is sexually active.

“College students are not simply unaware of the gravity of sexual consequences such as STDs and HIV, but many think that ‘It can’t happen to me,’ which is a mindset that may lead to high risk behaviors and unprotected sex,” Keary said. “These are difficult topics to talk about, but it is necessary for personal health. We should not be afraid to address them.”

Besides its stated goal, Yes, Means Test! had another main goal – everyone involved in this event wanted students to take care of themselves and to understand the importance that STD screenings have on one’s sexual and reproductive health.

“There may be no real signs that someone has an STD, and this can have long-term effects on someone’s reproductive health,” Keary said. “Getting tested for STDs is about your personal health and well-being.”

This was the first year the Yes Means Test! event occurred at Cleveland State, and Keary said she was pleased with the turnout – 57 students were tested and 12 students helped with the educational and administrative aspects of the event. She said she hopes the event will return year after year.

“Many students thanked us for providing a free screening opportunity,” Keary said. “I loved the outcome of this, even the only thing I would like to improve is that testing should not be a stigma, but a way to maintain your health."


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