One in four college students have an STD, according to Stanford University’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, and today from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. students can get tested for free at the Student Health Services (SHS) Center as part of an annual event to provide free STD testing.
Director for SHS Dr. Joseph Puccio said he encourages any sexually active student to get tested, as 80 percent of people with STDs do not experience noticeable symptoms.
“We always recommend students who are sexually active to get screened at least once or twice a year, whether they have symptoms or not,” Puccio said. “But students who show any symptoms of an STD, or if students have been sexually active with someone they suspect of having an STD, should get tested right away.”
Puccio said the frequency of STDs within the USF community is comparable to Hillsborough County’s for the age bracket, though he did not have an exact number at the time.
According to the Florida Department of Health website, two out of every three reported STD cases in Florida were under the age of 25.
Additionally the website stated while Floridians between the 15 and 24 represented only 13 percent of the state population in 201, they accounted for 70 percent of reported cases of Chlamydia infections and Gonorrhea rates are at least twice as high for them compared to any other group over 25.
“There is nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “It is just a service that a lot of students come in for and because it involves taking lab tests it can get a little expensive for those who do not have insurance. So every year we try to give everyone an opportunity to at least get a free screening.”
A complete screening could cost students anywhere from $75 to $100, depending on what they are tested for.
Every year, SHS sees about 300 students who come in for free testing. Students will have the opportunity to take a complete test that includes a urine and blood screening to check for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV and hepatitis.
The screenings will take place throughout the day, and Puccio said students should anticipate an estimated wait time of 30 minutes.
“We will have members from the Hillsborough County Health Department that will come in to help,” he said. “We anticipate on having a large number of providers to administer the test. So we are hoping to streamline it as quickly as possible. But it all depends on how many students show up at one time.”
Depending on the tests taken, Puccio said it could be one to two weeks before students get their test results back.
Though the complete test is given free annually, SHS offers free testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV for three days every month. HIV Testing is held the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 1-5 p.m, and gonorrhea and chlamydia is tested on the third Tuesday of the month from 1-5 p.m.