Rhode Island: Increasing Number of Brown University Students Getting Tested for STDs
October 2, 2007
During his 22 years at Brown University Health Services, Director Edward Wheeler has seen an increase in the number of students seeking testing for STDs. "Students are advocating more for their health," and they are "more aware than they were five to 10 years ago about [STDs] and screening for them," he said.
During 2006, Health Services conducted 1,001 chlamydia tests, 865 gonorrhea tests, 241 syphilis tests, and 600 HIV tests. At least 80 percent of these students, Wheeler said, showed no symptoms but wanted to be sure they were not infected.
Though he could not provide the number of positive results from the tests, Wheeler said he has not seen a "marked increase" in chlamydia or gonorrhea infections in recent years. The university has, however, seen more cases of human papillomavirus (HPV).
HPV is something that "nobody has any idea about, and it's huge," said Naomi Ninneman, a Health Services educator. HPV and the vaccine against it were topics during August training sessions for Residential Peer Leaders, said Sasha Link, a women's peer counselor. She said she keeps informational brochures about STDs on her door, but so far none of her freshman peers has asked her about the topic.
Since last September, when Health Services began offering the Gardasil HPV vaccine, 807 injections have been administered, Wheeler said, though he added he does not know how many women completed the full three-shot program.
9.21.2007; Olivia Hoffman, Brown Daily Herald