'Beer goggles' contributing problem to increase in STDs

By Cara Miller

Arizona Daily Wildcat

While students with strep throat may not be able to talk about their condition, some students with STDs prefer not to talk about their condition.

Sexually transmitted diseases are not exactly conversation pieces, but according to the American Social Health Association, they need to be talked about.

A recent report conducted by the association indicated that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, especially among students between the ages of 15 and 26.

The study pointed to gonorrhea as the fastest spreading disease. The number of gonorrhea cases reported nationwide during the second quarter of 1994 rose 13.6 percent over the first quarter's.

People under 25 account for an estimated 8 million new cases of STDs each year. Gonorrhea is most prominent among females ages 15-19 and males ages 23-26.

Miguel Rojez, the senior communicable disease investigator for Pima County Health Department, attributes these statistics to parties and more casual relationships.

"It's a fast moving bacterial infection, and this age group is usually the most sexually active," Rojez said.

While Rojez said that STDs are a continuing problem, Pima County statistics show a more prominent number of cases involving chlamydia.

Rojez said there are approximately 12,000 cases in Arizona. Last year Pima County accounted for 1,035 of those cases.

Rojez said education is the main form of prevention.

"About 320f the cases I see involved casual sex or one night stands," he said. "If you are going to have a sexual relationship, discuss the risk of STD's; take a shower; use a condom, and shower afterwards. These methods are fairly effective."

Lee Ann Hamilton, health educator for the University of Arizona Student Health Center, is also a strong proponent of education.

"I think many students who may be away from home for the first time may think college is the time to go wild. They just kind of ignore the risks and consequences," Hamilton said.

Hamilton attributes a large part of the problem to parties and drinking.

"'Beer goggles' are a real problem. When they are drunk, people will have sex with people they wouldn't ordinarily talk to on the Mall," she said.

Gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphillis can all be cured if they are detected and treated. However, these diseases can cause sterility if ignored.

Hamilton also said that she notices variations on lifelong infections, such as herpes and genital warts.

"Herpes is particularly dangerous because the open sores common with herpes greatly put people at risk for other diseases," she said.

Both Rojez and Hamilton work to educate people on the use of condoms as well as other methods


of prevention including abstaining from sex.

When Rojez visits high schools and grade schools, he compares STDs to something they can relate to.

"The longer you run on the track, the more trophies you will have," Rojez says.

Hamilton uses a student group known as Frisky Business to get the message out to college students. Frisky Business uses games and condom demonstrations to educate residence halls, sororities, fraternities and classrooms.

"Using condoms will reduce chances of disease, but intercourse without condoms can be 100 percent dangerous," Hamilton said.

"If you are getting naked and intimate, you are at risk," she said.

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