Give a little love … but not the bad kind.
Of the one million cases of chlamydia in the U.S. reported in 2017, according to the Center for Disease Control report, Omaha is currently rated No. 1 for chlamydia out of major cities in the U.S.
In recent years, there has been a rise in sexually transmitted diseases with 5,081 cases of STDs reported in Douglas County, according to the Get Checked Omaha website. That is an incredible amount of infections that are happening right here in this city.
College-aged students are the demographic that are responsible for half of the new STD infections, as they are a part of the 15 to 24-year-old age range, according to the CDC report.
You should go get tested.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Wellness Center, located in the Health and Kinesiology (H&K) building provides all forms of STD testing. The service is confidential, but the results are sent to a lab for testing. This means the test is listed on your insurance and a cost is involved, said a Wellness Center nurse.
Tommy Young-Dennis, a prevention and outreach specialist at the Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) explained that there is free testing available on campus at H&K in the Mindfulness Room. Both NAP and Douglas County Health Department provide testing for sexually transmitted infections and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) respectively every week on Thursdays from 2-4 p.m.
“If you can’t be there because your schedule,” Young-Dennis said. “We’re [NAP] right down the street behind McDonald’s. Come get a test and get yourself a burger!”
While it is good to have a place at UNO to go get tested and a time designated to have free testing, it’s important that students have access to free testing on campus all the time, as the college-aged demographic are the ones who need it the most.
Brianna Price, a senior at UNO and an intern at Get Checked Omaha, also explained that having free on-campus testing would be helpful to both low-income students and those who do not have access to transportation.
“Even though there is free testing centers all around the Omaha metro area, having it free and so close to you on campus is really, really beneficial,” said Price.
Sometimes having a two-hour window one day a week does not work with people’s schedules. Sexual health is also a personal issue to some people, and they do not want to seek out external help from other health care providers.
Young-Dennis said from a partnership perspective, however, there is not enough demand for UNO to create free testing.
“If the need increases for us to be there more often, we will definitely look into being there more,” said Young-Dennis.
Both Price and Young-Dennis encourage people to go get routine testing. It is recommended to get tested annually, after each sexual partner or if you have multiple sexual partners. This is especially important since some people are asymptomatic and do not show signs of infection.
“Your sexual health is not something you should be ashamed about,” Price said. “Your sexual health is part of your holistic health. We need to have open conversations with people about sex. We all do it, so it’s time to break down the stigma.”