UNH Health Services is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the health institute’s effort to promote the entire month of April as “Get Yourself Tested Month” (GYTM) across college campuses nation-wide.
UNH students will receive a $5 gift card to Aroma Joe’s, Breaking New Grounds or The Juicery if they get tested or screened for any sexually transmitted infection (STI) during the month of April.
According to UNH Wellness Educator and Counselor Dawn Zitney, “April was chosen as STI awareness month because it is considered a good time to get tested following high-risk sexual activities that students may have engaged in over spring break.”
Because every STI screening is confidential through Health Services, the university cannot provide or release campus-wide statistics, but the CDC has just released a statistic that “one in two sexually active young people will get a sexually transmitted infection by the age of 25,” which has been an incentive to spread sexual health education amongst college campuses.
“Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STIs [worldwide],” Zitney stated. “In addition to human papillomavirus infection (HPV).”
During the GYTM, Health Services has focused on educating UNH students in a variety of formats. Around campus, Health Services has posted between 60-70 signs with alarming and interesting facts about STI’s. In addition, table tennis tournaments in the dining halls are being held to spread awareness, and Health services is also using posts to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to spread sexual health knowledge.
“This is around the fifth year UNH has promoted the month of April as ‘Get Yourself Tested Month,’” Zitney said. “It’s too soon to say whether or not we have more students coming in to get tested, but historically, we hold the $5 promotion and have been able to attribute the campaign to an increase in testing.”
UNH nursing major Kayla Maslauskas believes Health Services has done a great job advertising and raising awareness about STIs on campus.
“I’ve seen a lot of signs and promotions,” Maslauskas said. “It’s important for students to get tested no matter what, and to understand the risks they are taking by not being careful. I think the next step for UNH should be to reduce the stigma around sexually transmitted infections and to make sure everyone feels comfortable enough to get the help they need.”
Health Services, located at 4 Pettee Brook Lane in Durham, is a completely confidential place to get tested for STIs on campus. If students do not feel comfortable coming in, they will always have access to speak with a nurse over the phone.
The cost of an STI screening varies depending on which STI doctors test for, but they offer payment in cash, personal check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover or Cat’s Cache if the student does not want to be billed directly to their insurance company.
Health Services plans to have more student involvement throughout next year and wants to educate students each semester, not only during the month of April.