Despite waiting longer to have sex and having fewer partners, young adults have experienced an increase in STD instances in the past few years. Statistics show that teen pregnancy is currently at an all-time low, but common STDs are rising.
Alexander McKay, research coordinator for SIECCAN, said that as teens get older, they tend to give up condoms in favor of oral contraceptives.
“The pattern is serial monogamy. Two people in the beginning will use condoms, then start looking at each other very favourably,” McKay said. “Because there are no symptoms, they think they don’t need condoms and switch to the birth control pill.”
Females should not stop using the birth control pill, which has the obvious benefit of preventing unwanted pregnancies.
“This is not an anti-pill message; we want to reinforce double protection,” McKay said.
McKay also said that students who stop using condoms because they are in committed relationships will say the same thing six months down the road, but will be talking about a different person.
“Although they have been in monogamous relationships, by the time a person graduates university, they may have had four, five or six different partners,” he said.
Julie Beth Lowe, health education volunteer coordinator at Western’s Student Health Services, finds the same problem.
“People gain trust with their significant others and start to slack off in terms of taking care of themselves,” Lowe said. “Although you may think that you’re in a faithful relationship, you really might not be.”
SHS allows students to deal with trained professionals in a confidential setting for STD testing, in addition to offering a complete resource centre.
“If you’re concerned or worried, just come in and make an appointment,” Lowe said.
Public health nurse Leanne Powell said that STD rates are going up across the country. One explanation for this may be that the testing methods have improved, so males have less reason to avoid getting tested.
“The more testing you do, the more results you’ll find,” Powell said.