Central Florida Future (UCF student newspaper) (09.15.2013)
To encourage more students to get tested for STDs, the University of Central Florida (UCF) began offering free and confidential testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, the two most common STDs in the college age group. Partnering with the Orange County Health Department, UCF Health Services performed the test by collecting a urine sample and required only a contact number for results. Privacy was key for students, according to Megan Pabian, UCF Health Services marketing coordinator. “It is [a] really important thing to communicate to students because a lot of times they won’t get tested because they think they are going to be asked ‘Are you gay?’ or ‘How many people have you slept with?’” Pabian said.
The health center will hold its next monthly screening event on Thursday, September 19. Testing results take approximately three weeks. If a student tested positive, the Orange County Health Department would offer them free treatment at its downtown Orlando clinic or at UCF for a small fee. UCF Health Services would not place test results in the students’ university record, unless the student chose to be treated at the school. Testing also was free for partners, whether or not they attended UCF.
Young adults between 15–24 years of age had the highest rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea but usually showed no symptoms. Both STDs were easily treated if caught early. UCF rates were lower than Florida’s average, but Karen Yerkes, a nurse practitioner at UCF Health Services, believed it was because the school did not screen as many students as the state overall, which was why she believed the school should continue to offer free screening to all students.
Pabian said the health center stressed the importance of getting tested for other STDs as well, and recommended that everyone get an HIV test. Pabian noted that health officials highly recommended that students get screened for syphilis, particularly those who engaged in high-risk sexual activity. The health center offered the oral-swab HIV test for free but charged $17 for the syphilis test.