By Anna Toth
Students received access to free sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing last week via the Yes Means Test campaign. Sponsored by the American Sexual Health Association and Hologic, a woman’s health care company, Yes Means Test strives to offer free testing to prevent the spread of STDs as well as offer treatment for the most commonly cured ones.
Set up in the Student Center, the Yes Means Test campaign partnered with LabCorp and the Cleveland State University Health and Wellness Center to make this possible for students.
Chris West from Hologic explained that STDS often go undiagnosed because of misconceptions of how STDs present themselves.
“We were all taught that it would burn, it would itch and we would know if we have an STD,” West said. “That’s not true.”
Hologic is a women’s health care company that provides STD testing and cervical cancer screening for women one of the sponsors behind Yes Means Test. While most people think they would typically know if they had an STD, West explained that 75 percent of people will be asymptomatic.
“They might not know they have one until maybe it’s too late,” West said.
While STDs might be a shy subject for most people, West — who has run similar events at other college campuses — was surprised with how enthusiastic Cleveland State was about it.
On the first day of Yes Means Test, they had 37 people that took advantage of the screening and claimed their free pizza. In just the first hour of the second day, they had another long line of people waiting for STD testing.
Students wanting to be tested were given a cup for a urine sample. After the sample was collected, they’d give it to the LabCorp technician who would then send it off to testing. Students could expect results back in 48 hours and if the results were positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea, students would get a call back from a nurse practitioner or doctor at the university.
“Cleveland State — being in an urban environment — it’s a little more progressive in how they view their student health,” West said. “The university was looking for something like this when we approached them about it.”
Denise Keary, health and wellness coordinator at the university, was very enthusiastic to give students this opportunity.
“Almost half of all people between the ages of 15 to 24 may have an STD and they might not know it,” Keary said.
Bold, bright colors sponsoring the words “Yes Means Test!” accompanied the statistic that one in two sexually active people get an STD by the time they’re 25.
Additionally, the free STD testing offered only tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea, as those are the most common and the most curable. It did not test for other STDs, such as herpes or HIV.
That’s where the Cleveland State Health and Wellness center comes in.
“Health and Wellness center does offer STD testing, HIV testing — we can do a lot of screenings in our offices,” Keary said.
However, unlike the event last week, STD testing at the Health and Wellness Center isn’t free. Instead, they’re covered by a student’s health insurance or it’s billed to the student’s university account.
Regardless of the price, Keary couldn’t stress enough how important annual STD testing is and how important it is to be comfortable with talking and treating your sexual health.
“It’s a natural part of life,” Keary said. “But we need to make sure that we’re taking care of it.”