As STD rates increase, funding for treatment and tests slows

Sexually Transmitted Diseases amongst young adults have tripled since 2008, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

As of 2012, it is estimated that one in every four students has an STD.

“I guess it is a little surprising,” arts and sciences major Alex Leitner said. “You don’t usually link STDs with that many students.”

Fulton County saw over 123,000 STD cases among young adults, an 8 percent rate increase since 2008, suggesting that although larger groups of students are contracting STDs, the chances that they will keep getting them are decreasing.

Still, according to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur every year, half among 15-24-year-olds. “Unfortunately, our rates go along with [CDC] rates,” Health Clinic manager Marcia Huge said. “Especially chlamydia and gonorrhea.”

Besides being a health concern, STDs are also a serious drain on the U.S. health care system, costing the nation almost $16 billion in health care yearly.

Student fees at Georgia State help pay for most Health fee discounts like laboratory tests, medical procedures, immunizations and access to the pharmacy. Yet, although student evaluations and examinations are free, an STD test will still cost you about $35 at the health clinic.

Huge believes this money would be better spent on education.

“We need to spend more money on prevention,” she said. “When there’s no problem to fix, there’s no issue.”

Huge also noted that younger students and upcoming freshmen are using resources provided by the health clinic much more than their upperclassmen.

But while students begin to see the importance in HIV awareness and access to healthcare, automatic cuts in health care funding are currently in effect. This year’s federal budget cut health care funding to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, an estimated loss of about 2,300 research grants.

This past month, After another HIV vaccine test failed, the government ordered NIAID to stop their research and is no longer funding any studies.

“I would rather our fees go to health care funding,” Leitner said. “I would rather that than mandatory fees for the gym, parades and football games.”

In 2011, chlamydia and gonorrhea cases were the most common STDs affecting adults, with the highest percentage of cases specifically amongst college students.

In addition to increasing a person’s risk for HIV infection, STDs can lead to severe reproductive health complications, such as infertility. Untreated, about 10 to 15 percent of women with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease. According to the CDC, most women infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea have no symptoms.

“[Student] mentality must change,” she said. “Some don’t seem to understand that you can still get an STD on birth control.”

Before the health clinic, Panthers can go to The Center for Health and Technology or check out the HIV and STD Systems Evaluation Project online at the university website.

The health clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Fridays.