Sexual health services need to be advertised

By Breanne Williams, COLUMNIST
On March 5, 2017

USF offers many sexual health services for students, however they often go unnoticed. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Sexual health services are necessary for any university that claims to care about the well-being of its students. 

USF has taken steps to provide affordable, and often free, services for students at the Student Health Services (SHS) and the Center for Student Well-Being. 

However, the existence of those services is rarely broadcast to the general student body. Unless you walk by the clinic on campus or are a health major, you probably are unaware of the many amazing and completely necessary services provided by the university.

Students can receive many useful services like free screenings for sexually transmitted infections, free contraceptives, gynecological exams and even heavily discounted birth control, a lifesaver for those without insurance. 

Prices for birth control prescriptions average at $10 to $25 at the Bulls Country Pharmacy, according to its business manager, Robert Law. 

The Sexual Health and Gynecology department offer routine gynecological exams and STI treatment. SHS offers hormonal therapy for transgender students as well as PrEP, a preventative medication for those potentially exposed to HIV. 

USF’s many different departments and services have teamed up to ensure students are covered and can live the healthiest lives possible. They’ve proven they care and truly do wish to make a difference. Now, students need to know about these services.

The university can offer all the free testing and discounted birth control it wants, but if no one knows to take advantage of the services, the time and money invested are wasted.

Students pay a health fee upon attending USF. This fee goes to the clinic on campus and allows USF to offer discounted rates for medicine and treatments, as well as funding for the Center for Victim Advocacy and Violence Prevention, Counseling Center and Center for Student Well-Being.

They are forced to pay the fee, so they should know what benefits they have available to them. 

Part of that starts at orientation. While the health services are mentioned briefly, details are not always shared. Students should be informed there are laws keeping STI testing from showing up on their insurance bills, which is a factor keeping some from the clinic who fear their parents finding out. 

They should know they can afford care, even if they don’t have insurance. 

The focus should now be placed on spreading the word.  Whether that means increasing advertising, chalking about upcoming events or partnering with groups on campus to spread the word on services offered, the university has to make sure the services are highlighted.

“We work really hard in making that an inclusive and safe space for students, so that there isn’t a sense of stigma or fear in keeping up their supplies and resources that the students need,” Courtney Becker, the assistant director for the Center for Student Well-Being told The Oracle. 

The stigma is decreasing, as evidenced by the desire for such services. Students want the resources, parents want their children to be able to get protection or treatment and the university wants to have as healthy a campus as possible. 

All that’s missing is making sure what is already in place lands on the average student’s radar.  

 

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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