Valentine’s Day, the day of love. We all show our love to different people in different ways, but in intimate, sexual relationships, there are several things you can do to show the one you love how much you really care about them.
1. Use protection.
This is about more than preventing pregnancy. It is about protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs). For oral sex, use a flavored condom or dental dam. For vaginal or anal sex, use a condom. According to the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Eckerd College Executive Summary in Spring 2011, less than 60 percent of sexually active Eckerd students reported using a condom or other protective barrier within the last 30 days (mostly or always) for vaginal intercourse, less than 5 percent for oral sex and 30 percent for anal intercourse. Remember, condoms are available for free on campus from the Office of Health Promotion and Counseling & Health Services.
2. Get tested.
It is important to know your status to protect yourself and the one you love. Free HIV testing is offered monthly on campus, and you can be tested for other sexually transmitted infections at St. Anthony’s Primary Care in the Eckerd College Health Center. Just call them at 727-864-8326 to make an appointment. The dates for free rapid HIV testing on campus from Metro Wellness and Community Centers are Feb. 13, March 13, April 10 and May 8 from 2-4 p.m. at the mobile unit in Cobb loop. If you need information on how to talk to your partner and/or healthcare provider about getting tested, stop by the Office of Health Promotion in the Fitness Center, or check out GYTnow.org.
3. Get vaccinated.
While cancer rates overall are on a downward trend, cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV) are increasing, especially among men (Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and there are often no symptoms. It can be transmitted through oral, anal and vaginal sex. These cancers can often be prevented with the HPV vaccine, sometimes referred to as the cervical cancer vaccine, which is recommended for all men and women ages 11 to 26. In spring 2011, only 56 percent of Eckerd students reported receiving vaccination against human papillomavirus (American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Eckerd College Executive Summary). You can make an appointment to get the HPV vaccine at St. Anthony’s Primary Care in the Eckerd College Health Center by calling 727-864-8326, or talk to your primary care provider.
The Office of Health Promotion is here to support your health and wellness, and you are always welcome to stop by our office in the Fitness Center. Also, be sure to complete the Eckerd College Student Health Survey from the American College Health Association that will be emailed to all residential students on Friday, March 1. We use the data from that survey to help us better understand the health needs of students and develop programs to address those needs.