What Brock is doing to overcome spike in STI rates amongst university students

Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Every year, Brock welcomes thousands of new students to campus, with each student excited to enter into a new academic atmosphere. Although emerging into a new space can be an exhilarating time for students, it is equally as important to stay safe and educated during the excitement and, for young adults, one of the most important things to stay updated on is sexual health information, as well as the resources that one’s school provides to avoid any sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). 

Staying educated on such matters is especially important today, as STI rates in Canada have seen a significant increase in the last decade. In 2018, Canada saw a total of 117,008 chlamydia cases, 30,874 gonorrhea cases and 6,281 syphilis cases. More than 76.1 per cent of chlamydia cases were seen in individuals under the age of 30, while 56.3 per cent of gonorrhea cases and 37.8 per cent of syphilis cases were seen in the same age group.

Similar statistics are seen in the United States as well, where the highest number of STIs are reported to be from college-aged students, with 1 in 2 people likely having contracted an STI by the age of 25. 70 per cent of individuals who contract STIs are likely to be asymptomatic, which makes being educated on the matter, and getting tested regularly, especially important.

At Brock, students are advised to stay updated on all matters related to sexual health to protect both themselves and any potential partners. According to Julie Fennel, health promoter at Brock, some of the major factors contributing to a rise in STI cases at Brock is students’ lack of knowledge. Many students do not understand the importance of using condoms, nor the difference between viral and bacterial STIs.

“A bacterial STI can be managed or eliminated by medication, whereas a viral STI can be managed by medication. What students don’t recognize is that some things you can’t take a pill for and it will just go away,” said Fennell.

In addition to this, many students are unaware that STIs can also be exchanged through oral intercourse.

To further understand STIs,  the importance of getting tested, and taking care of one’s body, students should use one of Brock’s many resources relating to sexual health.

“We have a nurse practitioner and doctors on campus that are quite comfortable with sitting down and having conversations with students about the best contraceptives for them,” said Fennell.

To make an appointment to speak about any sexual health-related questions, students are free to contact Nurse Stephanie Maccormack at 905-688-5550 ext. 3243 or email smaccormack@brocku.ca

In addition to this, students can visit the Wellness HUB on Thursdays anytime between 12 p.m to 3:30 p.m for free and confidential testing. Students can also explore several short and informative videos on contraception on Brock’s sexual health information page here.

“It’s really important because the quicker and easier you make testing, the more students will take advantage of it and care for their health,” said Fennell. “Caring for their own health is caring for all of their partners’ health as well.”

In addition to providing informative appointments and free testing, Brock also offers support services for students who identify as sex workers, which students can find more information on here.

Students are asked to always be aware of the prospect of a sexually transmitted disease. Getting regularly tested is the first step in the right direction.

“Be aware that STIs are out there and they can be contracted, and be aware of what a healthy relationship is and don’t feel pressured,” said Fennell.
For more information on sexual health services being offered at Brock, be sure to visit the Sexual Health Information section on Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility site. To stay updated further on sexual health-related workshops or services being provided, be sure to check out the Brock SWAC Instagram.

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