By Kristie Hamon
Unlike previous years, there is now nowhere on campus where students can get free condoms because of state budget cuts.
Student Health Services Director Pradeep Bose said they have provided free condoms in the past but because of the recent cuts, can no longer afford to provide free condoms to students.
“We were getting our condoms from the state and they were free of charge to us so we could provide them quite freely to our students,” Bose said. “But we just don’t have the funding anymore and the state has no longer been providing it to us.”
Bose said Student Health Services does not have an up-to-date record of how many students may have a sexually transmitted disease/infection (STD/STI) on campus.
“We do a lot of testing. Most of them come back negative; a few do come back positive,” Bose said. “We don’t have any software right now that tracks that. Our other software program crashed, and so we are in the process of recreating that so that we can log those things because we are interested in that as well. And we used to have some data built up, that was several years ago.”
Pradeep said the biggest problem they have when tracking STD/STIs is that Student Health Services is not the only source of care for many students who may go see a family doctor, the health department, emergency rooms or other places.
Eastern’s Health Education Action Team (HEAT) said STD/STIs are something that college students need to be aware of.
“One in four college age students nationally have been infected with an STD,” said Meghan Scott, health educator for HEAT.
Scott said HEAT does two programs based around sex education in which they
have free condoms, “Safe is Sexy” and “Sex and Chocolate.”
She said they have been buying their own condoms for about two or three years now.
“We give out condoms, but we do it at our programs and events,” Scott said. “But we don’t just have like a basket or something set out in the office where students can come and get them. We have to use our money out of our budget to purchase those.”
Scott also said there is nowhere on campus where students can get free condoms because of funding cuts.
“If student(s) want free condoms, they have to go to the Madison County Health Department, the reason being is because all our funding got cut,” Scott said. “We used to receive free condoms from the state through a grant, but the grant ran out.”
Bose had some tips for students to avoid STD/STIs. Number one: Limit the number of partners. Number two: Choose one partner to one partner, mutually monogamous relationships. Number three: Always carry condoms.
“Although condoms are not 100 percent, they’re the best bet,” Bose said. “Female condoms are actually better than male condoms.”
Number four: Always use lubrication so there isn’t the risk of the condom breaking. Number five: Don’t engage in sex when you are not fully in control of your faculties, such as when under the influence of alcohol.
For more information about STDs/STIs, contact a HEAT member at 622-6221 or visit Student Health Services.