Skip to:Main Content

Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University Campus Image

STI's

Things you can do to keep from contracting an STI:

ABSTINENCE
This is the ONLY way to protect yourself completely. Many college students are choosing not to have sex.

MONOGAMY
Say NO! to casual sex. Having one partner for a short time and then moving on to another partner (serial monogamy) is high-risk behavior.

COMMUNICATE
Be direct and honest with partners. TALK first!

STAY SOBER
Alcohol and other drugs lower your ability to make sensible self- protecting decisions. Drunk sex is rarely safer sex.

CONDOMS
Use a lubricated condom every time you have sex, even if you are using another form of birth control

CHOOSE LOWER RISK SEXUAL ACTIVITIES
Kissing, hugging, massaging and touching are generally safer activities than intercourse.

STIs are infections transmitted by intimate sexual contact. Many people with an STI have NO SYMPTOMS or may be unaware of mild symptoms. However, they can still transmit the infection to an unknowing sexual partner. Although treatment is available for all STIs, not all are curable. General signs of STI's include: sores / blisters, rash, penile or vaginal discharge, painful urination, abdominal pain, or even none at all. Here are some facts about the most common STI's:

CHLAMYDIA: Bacterial infection

  • Affects 5-10% of sexually active college students
  • 30% of men and 80% of women with chlamydia are asymptomatic
  • Treatable with antibiotics given by mouth
  • Can cause formation of scar tissue on reproductive organs and infertility

HERPES: Viral infection

  • Affects 30 million (1 out of every 6) Americans
  • Type I virus is oral. Type II virus affects the genital area.
  • Initial outbreak - genital blisters and sores. Recurrent outbreaks are milder.
  • Symptoms include painful sores in the genital area, enlarged lymph nodes in groin, itching, burning during urination, fatigue and flu-like symptoms.
  • Can be transmitted by oral sex or genital contact without sexual intercourse
  • NO CURE! Treated with anti-viral drugs.

GENITAL WARTS (HPV):

  • Viral infection
  • Fastest growing STI today-6 million new cases each year.
  • Can only see 5% of warts
  • 95% of abnormal Pap smears are related to genital warts.
  • Can be transmitted by genital contact without sexual intercourse.
  • NO CURE! Human papilloma virus remains in the body and can infect an unprotected sex partner. HPV is also a risk factor for cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, and penis, especially in combination with smoking. HPV infections do improve with time and can be treated topically.
  • There is now a vaccine available called Gardasil. It is given as 3 injections over 6 months. Talk to your health care provider or Student Health.

HIV Infection

Can become a reality if unprotected sex occurs. In the United States between one and two million people are believed to be infected with HIV. A national study of college students showed that approximately 1-2 per 1,000 students is HIV positive. Because of the long incubation period (up to 10 years) cases of HIV infection may not show up clinically until after an infected student has graduated. It is important to note that the infected person can transmit the virus to others during this symptom-free time. Treatment early in the course of the infection may slow or prevent progression to AIDS.

TESTS for pregnancy, chlamydia and other STI's are all available at the Student Health Center. There is a lot of good information in brochures at the Student Health Center and in the Counseling Center as well. Confidential HIV testing/ counseling is also available through the Student Health Center. These records are kept in a separate locked file and are not part of your permanent medical record. Anonymous HIV testing is available through Health Departments in Roanoke and Charlottesville.