With hormones raging and drinks flowing, it’s no surprise that university students are the friskiest demographic. With a home away from prying parents and our laid-back attitudes to getting it on, risks are taken far too easily when it comes to unsafe sex. If it’s the rugby boys competing for notches on bedposts, or the girl who’s just discovered her sexuality…. we’re all at it. The thing that we don’t seem to be so good at however, is keeping ourselves safe. It was reported that in 2013 the abortion rate was highest for women aged 22 (at 30 per 1,000 women) – which is well within university age. With so many methods of contraception on the market (all for free) ranging from the good old Contraceptive pill, all the way to more invasive long-term methods such as the Implant and the Coil, these high figures, and the trauma, can be avoided. We’re smart enough be at uni, so why are we not smart enough to take the right precautions?
Pregnancy however, is not the worst-case scenario. With condom use at university falling into unicorn territory, with many of us failing to slip one on, sexually transmitted infections are on the rise. It was reported that in Leeds alone, in 2013 there were 3,289 positive chlamydia results within people aged 15-24 – and they were the people who got tested. This was one of the highest figures in the UK, and is likely to have a strong correlation with the dense student population of the city. You may think, so what? It’s only chlamydia, antibiotics will sort that out. But did you know that if you have chlamydia, you are more likely to contract HIV? And HIV isn’t so easily treated.
The number of people living with HIV in the UK has doubled in the last 10 years to now a round 100,000 people. One in five people with HIV in the UK are undiagnosed, so therefore could unknowingly pass on the infection to you or one of your future partners. About two thirds of people living with HIV are men and a third are women – which abolishes the archaic view of homosexuality being the only route to HIV. Although HIV is no longer a death sentence, it can highly impact your life – and your ability to have relationships and produce children – much like Syphilis and Herpes. Condoms and regular testing are the only way to prevent transmission of HIV, and unfortunately you can’t tell if someone has it by looking at them!
Promiscuity is a given at university, as you’re never going to have this much freedom in your whole life – but being sensible is the key to avoiding disaster. If you think your numbers are ok, and you still want to take the risks, you may want to take a look at the Sex Degrees of Separation Calculator (http://calculators.lloydspharmacy.com/SexDegrees/).This calculator determines your average amount of indirect partners, so who everybody you’ve slept with, has slept with etc. I must warn you, it will shock you. But will clearly highlight the need for safe sex. Would you use a toothbrush that had been used by 10,000 people? Nah.