Sexually Transmitted Infections - Fact v. Myth

STIs & RU: Fact vs. Myth
You’ve heard the rumors about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at Rutgers University. But do you know the facts?

How the Rumors Started
Starting in 1992, a non-random sample of students, representing approximately 3% of the RU female population, participated in an HPV (human papillomavirus) study that took place over three years. Initially, 26% of the participants were already infected with HPV and an additional 43% became infected over the next three years. The study found that approximately 60% of the participants were infected with HPV at some point in the three years, but not necessarily at the same time.

The Facts
RU most likely has the same prevalence of STIs as other colleges/universities nationwide.
RU most likely has the same prevalence for this age group found statewide.

We do not know the actual incidence or prevalence rate of any sexually transmitted infection among Rutgers University students, only estimates. Based on the students who have come to the Rutgers Health Services, the most commonly diagnosed STIs are HPV and chlamydia. We estimate that about 20% of students engaging in sexual activity may be infected with herpes, and about 25-35% may be infected with HPV (most of which clears up on its own).

By age 24, at least 1 out of every 4 Americans is infected with a STI and those under 25 years of age account for approximately 2/3 of all new STI infections (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 2002). Based upon national data, the most common STIs among college-age students are HPV, Herpes Simplex Virus, and chlamydia.

Collecting accurate statistics on STIs is challenging. Diagnosis of some STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, must be reported to the state (health department) and federal (CDC) government for tracking purposes, so we have a better count of incidence. Other STIs, such as HPV and Herpes Simplex Virus, are not reportable, and therefore much harder to estimate their incidence. Not everyone infected with a STI may seek testing or treatment, and so are not included in government numbers or RU statistics.

The Bottom Line
STIs are preventable. Not everyone at Rutgers is infected with an STI. But you can’t tell who is just by looking at them. Remember, abstaining from all intimate sexual contact and sexual intercourse - vaginal, anal, and oral - is the only way to avoid infection with a STI. If you have sexual contact with a partner (regardless of gender), consider getting screened for STIs at Rutgers Health Services. While there is no one single test for all STIs, many may be diagnosed by taking a history, physical exam, culture with a swab, or a blood test. Some STIs are not easily diagnosed, so no clinician can guarantee you are “clear” of all STIs. 

Communication is a vital part of any relationship and for staying healthy. Talk with your partner about STIs before you have sexual contact. Use condoms (male or female condoms) for all sexual intercourse – vaginal, anal and oral.

Questions? Contact Rutgers Health Services at (732) 932-7402 with questions or to make an appointment at any one of three health centers.

Want to learn more about Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)? Click on a topic below:

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Chalmydia
Gonnorhea
Syphilis
Herpes
Hepatitis B
HIV
Crabs & Scabies