As syphilis, monkeypox infection rate increase, students encouraged to get tested regularly, practice safe sex
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise nationwide. There has been a 26% rise in syphilis cases across the country, while the disease monkeypox has seen an international spike.
Thus far monkeypox has occurred more frequently in cases of sex between men, but is not limited to these groups. According to the World Health Organization, men make up 99% of reported monkeypox cases. The virus spreads through close contact, not just sexually, and has led to a current 28,087 cases in the United States and 235 cases in Oregon.
Nurse Practitioner Jessica Kingsbury, who works for Lewis & Clark’s Health Service, said LC is aware of the trend, but is comfortable with the current situation on a local level.
“We have not had any notification of any (monkeypox) cases on campus,” Kingsbury said. “We have not seen it in the clinic. We have also not had any syphilis cases.”
Kingsbury could not speak confidently for the entire LC community, only for those who have had tests done on campus, but based on the results, LC is dodging the trend.
To schedule an on-campus test, call 503-768-7165 or drop by the office to set one up. LC’s Health Service is located beneath the northeastern corner of Templeton Student Center at ground level, and can be reached by following a small path. Syphilis tests are $7.71 and monkeypox tests are $100. All other test prices can be found on the health services page of the LC website under the fees for services tab.
Michelle Callahan, the director of Health Promotion and Wellness knows that getting tested is an important part of staying healthy while sexually active. She has a degree in public health, with concentrations in sexual and reproductive health and gender and sexual minority health and a zoo of STI plushes on the shelf in her office.
“Advocating for yourself and talking about your sexual health and with your partner is okay and healthy and there is nothing shameful about that,” Callahan said. “Also, there’s nothing shameful if you find out that you do have an STI. They’re a natural part of our lives.”
In addition to testing, LC offers a variety of sexual health products to students on campus through Feminist Student Union (FSU) and Campus Living. Caroline Arnis ’23, one of the co-leaders of FSU, said the resources their organization provides to promote safe sex and STI prevention are important.
“We have a little table outside where we can keep all of the less expensive resources … like condoms, lube, dental dams, tampons and pads,” Arnis said. “Then anything else that’s more expensive like a pregnancy test, Plan B, Ella or fentanyl test strips, you can just either come by when someone’s in the office to grab it or schedule a time to pick it up for you, free of charge.”
Products like these help keep students safe during sex. Arnis said that FSU’s main priority is to ensure it is executed in a healthy way.
“We just want to help people make the choices safely because that’s what people deserve,” Arnis said.
Sex is a powerful action that can affect people for the rest of their lives. Because of its potent nature, it is important for people to be properly educated and prepared. In regards to STIs, Callahan was happy to educate.
“If people want to know more, they’re always welcome to either reach out by email, or they can stop by the Health Promotion office, which at least for the fall semester, will be in lower Odell.” Callahan said. “Then for the spring semester, we will be in the Campus Living suite due to the Stuart-Odell renovation.”