Let’s Talk Safe Sex At USD

According to the most recent data from the South Dakota Department of Health, in 2016, they saw the most chlamydia cases ever in one year as well as the most gonorrhea cases since the 1980s. Because of that information, in a partnership with Sanford Health, the University of South Dakota is taking steps to make sure that their students are not only informed but practicing safe sex.

“We’ll have seven locations on campus starting in our north complex, with is largely where our freshmen student population lives as well as in Burgess and Norton halls.”

Placed in bathrooms mainly located on the first floor, explained Associate Dean of Students at the University of South Dakota, John Howe, students in these halls will soon find free condoms.

“The dispensers are clear, plastic dispensers, they’re single chamber or dual chamber,” said Rachel Olson, Student Health Coordinator with Sanford Health. “We’ll load them up with condoms, regular condoms or female condoms, and then the students will be able to just pull out the condoms when they’re needed.”

But that’s not all that they’ll find, students will also get information about STDs as well as STIs.

Rachel Olson, the Student Health Coordinator with Sanford Health, explained that there are three main sexually transmitted diseases or infections they look for, “The STI’s, STD’s, that the Department of Health, that we look at with the Student Health Advisory Board, is a lot of the chlamydia, the gonorrhea and the syphilis.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Health data in November (the December data is expected to be released on Wednesday), when compared to a 5 year median from 2011-2015, of the three STIs/STDs mentioned by Olson, only syphilis cases decreased. While syphilis decreased by 5%, cases of gonorrhea increased by 53% and chlamydia increased by 7%.

“The large prevalence of STIs, sexually transmitted infections, as well as STDs… so this is largely an informational campaign,” explained Associate Dean of Students, at USD, John Howe.  “As well as an opportunity for students to make safe and well informed choices.”

While the installation of the seven dispensers will be part of a trial period, to see if students are utilizing both the condoms and information, as well as who will be responsible for refilling the dispensers, they’re placed in locations that will hopefully encourage students to make informed decisions.

“They wanted it to be in a location that are readily available but also where students can, discretely, make an informed choice for themselves,” said Howe.

John Howe, Associate Dean of Students at USD, says that the trial period will go through the whole semester and possibly longer. They’ll be monitoring the condom usage, how often the dispensers need to be refilled as well as circulating new information about STDs/STIs and safe sex.

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