Wrap it up, Mounties!

It’s here, folks: the Wellness Centre and MASU are teaming up this week for the #KnowYourStatus campaign! Keep your eyes peeled for new informational posters up around campus and our education and awareness booths on Wednesday and Friday! We will also be providing drop-in STI testing from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27 and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29! Bring your Medicare card and give yourself about 20 minutes to be tested.

Why is this campaign necessary? Let’s check the stats. Only 50.2 per cent of Mount Allison students reported using a condom or other protective barrier during intercourse in the last 30 days on the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment conducted in the spring of 2018. After receiving the summary of this assessment earlier this semester, the Wellness Centre conducted a poll. About 75 per cent of respondents were aware that the Wellness Centre provides students with free condoms, but 80 per cent indicated that they had never used a condom provided by the Wellness Centre or RAs in residence. The most common reason for not using a condom was that respondents were in a relationship and don’t use a condom every time they have sex (25 per cent), followed closely by an expressed dislike for the brand of condoms provided by the Wellness Centre (22 per cent). Notably, 15per cent of respondents indicated that they usually don’t wear a condom when they have sex.

Taking a look at some bigger numbers in Canada shows why our tendency as Mounties to not wear a love glove is troubling. One in two sexually active young people will get a sexually transmitted infection by the age of 25. Chlamydia is the most commonly diagnosed and reported STI in Canada, but 70 per cent of those infected with chlamydia (or gonorrhea) do not experience any symptoms. About 70 per cent of adults will have had sexually transmitted HPV (human papillomavirus). Symptoms of STIs can include sores or warts, swelling, skin rash, painful urination, fever and more.

It’s safe to say that everyone wants to avoid contracting an STI. But how? The only method to 100 per cent guarantee you won’t contract an STI is to not have sex. Realistically, university students are having sex – so the second-best way to prevent STIs is through the use of condoms, which are 98 per cent effective at protecting against most STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. Other preventative steps are important, such as getting vaccinated for hepatitis B and HPV (for both men and women). Individuals who are engaging in frequent sexual activity should be tested for STIs. It only takes 20 minutes – just bring your health-care card to the Wellness Centre, fill out a few forms and give a urine sample!

So Mounties, I implore you: wear a condom! Engaging in sexual skin-to-skin contact can transmit STIs between individuals, and it’s important to protect yourself from these diseases. Taking responsibility and being accountable for your own sexual health is an important part of growing up and being an independent adult in university.

I am also happy to share with you all that thanks to the results of the poll, the Wellness Centre has changed the brand of condoms it provides to students, which will be available at our education booths this week and around campus, including in residences. If you have any questions or want to learn more, please feel free to contact me at healthintern@mta.ca. To schedule an STI test, email wellness@mta.ca or cmosher@mta.ca. Have a happy and healthy week!

Rachel McDougall
Rachel McDougall is a contributor to the Argosy.