An Evening of Dance

Free STD screenings help dismantle stigma

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February 20, 2017

11:04 PM

No one wants to talk about them; it’s weird and uncomfortable. Truth be told, no one really knows much about them, either. What’s the difference between chlamydia and gonorrhea? Do you have herpes forever? What the heck is even crabs?

I’ll be honest, talking about sexually transmitted diseases isn’t exactly polite dinner conversation, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who is pretty familiar with each sexually transmitted infection out there. Therefore, serious conversations about STDs always seem to be far and few between. Consequentially, even though no one seems to know much about the conditions, everyone is openly afraid of them. And people who have them can feel somewhat like social pariahs in the day and age of a public narrative that seems to ridicule those affected (have you ever heard of a “thot-fax”? Yeah, like a car-fax … for humans. Good job, Twitter).  So it came as a welcome change when the College of William and Mary’s student health center announced that it would be offering free STI/STD screening on Valentine’s Day this year. In pointed jest of the holiday designed for veiled romantic gestures (whether sexual or not), the student health center chose to be bold and waived the normal $75 fee for anyone who chose to get themselves tested.

…it came as a welcome change when the College of William and Mary’s student health center announced that it would be offering free STI/STD screening on Valentine’s Day this year.

While blatant marketing and publicizing of this offer was limited to nonexistent, the word still spread sufficiently enough that a good number of people turned up to take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, the free services were limited to the first 100 people that showed up, and after that, students had to pay the regular subsidy if their insurance didn’t cover it.

There has been widespread complaint that many people were not aware of the event until after the opportunity had already passed, though. When I think back on it, I can’t remember seeing any advertisement for the event anywhere — no posters, Facebook events, or postings about it. There was a quick blurb in the Feb. 13 Student Happenings email, but a lot of students tend to ignore those emails, including myself, admittedly. Ultimately, I believe most people will agree that the health center could have done a much better job advertising the event to reach people who might really be in need of free STD testing. Hopefully next time they will be more proactive about it.

Obviously there is more that the College can do as a whole to improve education on the subject, but having the health center offer free STD screening is movement in the right direction.

I am happy to see the College making a step toward eliminating the stigma surrounding sexual health on campus. Obviously there is more that the College can do as a whole to improve education on the subject, but having the health center offer free STD screening is movement in the right direction. I hope they offer this opportunity again for people who might have missed it this past Valentine’s Day — it’s also important to express that it doesn’t have to be a holiday to take care of yourself.

Email Lexi Godfrey [email protected]

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  • Lexi Godfrey