HIV and STI's are a rising risk factor on many college campuses. Marshall University is no different. Just recently, our campus Student Health Education Program sent out a bulletin to campus resident students informing them that there was a 10% chance that any given student will contract an STI during their four years at Marshall. That statistic made me cringe.
As I have aged, my experience has led me to take extraordinary precautions when it comes to my health. Just a few days ago, I was eating dinner with some of my friends in the dining hall and we were talking about sex. One topic in particular came up -- Have you ever lied to a potential sexual partner? Of course, I gave a firm no. I've got nothing to hide. However, two of the five in the group say that they had indeed lied to a former sexual partner. That was a scary statistic. Recently, an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education stated that over 40% of college students diagnosed with HIV disease failed to inform their partner.
Loving myself is an issue that I hold close to my heart. Self-esteem is a vital link in assuring that I will make the proper choices in life. If I don't watch out for my own health, who will? Therefore, I believe it to be highly important to assure that I am taking the steps to assure that I will not contract HIV or an STI. When I consider the stats that one out of every four people will contract an STI, it makes my choice clear -- be careful. Since I have not had anybody admit to me that they have an STI, it becomes clear that I too have been a victim of deceit. Just like my friends at the table lied, maybe that issue hit closer to home than I might prefer.
Since I have been in college for six years now, I have had the pleasure of meeting many wonderful friends and acquaintances. Even from Ashland University, where I received my Bachelors degree, I still have a few close friends who make the five hour trip to Huntington to pay me a visit. These are the people that I hold close to my heart. I love all of my friends and would do anything to help them. In the past, I have stayed up until 4 a.m. with a friend listening to his concerns and letting him cry. That is my job as a friend. Supportive. Caring. Concerned.
As most of my friends will probably tell you, if they are being careless with their sexuality, they have probably received "The Lecture." Some hear it more then others. Just recently, another one of my friends received the horrible news that he has HIV. It hurt me so much to know that his life will be forever changed. I am sick of seeing my friends slowly dying off right in front of my eyes.
Growing up in the Ronald Reagan "safe sex" era, it baffles me as to why some of our youth are taking such risks with their bodies. Don't we all know better? All of the right signals are being sent by the proper institutions but sometimes the message is not getting through. Being college students, we are an educated part of the citizenry. We should know better. On Marshall's campus, we have program after program that stresses safer sex. The effort is being made on the part of the faculty, staff, and administration.
Until they find a vaccine or a cure for HIV, I hope that no more of my friends contract the disease. I am sick of seeing my friends dying for no reason. HIV disease is preventable (in most cases). Being that we live in a sometimes dishonest society, keep in mind that you must take all the precautions you believe are necessary for the particular situation. It is your life. It is your life to lose. My brothers and sisters, please watch out for your health because nobody can do that job but you. Don't become the next statistic. Stay well.
Peace and Pride,