Sexual health penetrates campus

by Olivia Litsey

According to San Diego State’s Student Health Services website, “The Health Promotion Department aims to enhance the well-being of SDSU students in order for them to achieve academic success and establish lifelong healthy behaviors and attitudes to reduce the risk for disease and injury.” Behaviors and attitudes associated with sexual health are no exception.  Though sex is not unbeknownst to the college student population, it’s important to learn about the maintenance of sexual health, too.

Trojan Condoms’ annual Sexual Health Report Card is a study that measures the facilitation of sexual health maintenance on college campuses. It ranks colleges all over the country on the basis of sexual health resources and information provided to their students.  Bert Sperling is the president of the research company that has been conducting this study for the past eight years, Sperling’s BestPlaces.  According to Sperling, the 140 colleges included in the survey cover 30 percent of the entire undergraduate college student population in the U.S. Colleges are chosen for the survey based on either their large student population or sheer cultural influence. The student health centers of the campuses chosen were graded based on 11 different categories, including hours of operation, student scheduling accessibility, website quality and on-site testing.  The 2013 ranking showed SDSU coming in at number 97, rising from its previous spot at 105 in 2012.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention places the current number of new sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed annually at 20 million.  On a more relevant note, almost half of those being diagnosed are only 15 to 24 years old—an age range encompassing a large portion of college students.  SDSU students can opt toward not adding to this large number by taking advantage of the services that are offered by Student Health Services. The Calpulli Center clinic offers birth control and vaccines for HPV.  Though the HPV vaccine, widely known as Gardasil, is not required for enrollment, it is listed as a recommended vaccination for individuals ages nine to 26 as a preventative measure against genital warts, as well as against cervical cancer for women.  The Health Promotion Department holds health seminars for SDSU students on HIV/AIDS, STD education and more. The Peer Health Educators (PHEs) of the SDSU community hold workshops on many health topics, one of which is sexual health.

Staying on top of one’s sexual health doesn’t have to be boring—modern technology has actually made it much easier.  For example, Hula is a recently released app that was created by entrepreneur Ramin Bastani after a distressing sexual encounter.

“It basically started when some girl slapped me across the face when I asked her if she’d been tested,” Bastani said.

With the goals of simplifying the process of STD testing, reducing the rates of transmission (and awkward conversations with a partner), and empowering users everywhere to make better sexual health decisions in mind, the company helps users in four main ways: providing information about testing facilities in their area, ensuring the procurement of their results, assisting them in sharing those results in an amusing way, and reminding them to get tested again every so often.  Hula’s “unzip me” component features a virtual vertical zipper that, once unzipped, displays the app owner’s STD status, which is taken directly from one’s medical record.

Bedsider is another less-monotonous option for sexual health maintenance.  Operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Bedsider is a birth control support website for women ages 18 to 29.  According to, their objective is to “help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively.”  With options for birth control and appointment reminders, as well as loads of free information about different methods, this online source is a way for women in particular to obtain a higher level of birth control awareness.

The sexual health on any college campus is without a doubt very varied.  It is affected by both the mind-sets of the students themselves as well as the health services made available on campus.  Each individual student alone holds the power to determine not just their own sexual health, but also that of their partners.

Photo by Karen Schiely, Akron Beacon Journal