Guilford University health science and sociology and anthropology double major student Mara Stewart recently held a presentation about STDs. She said the problem with the rise in cases stems from possible distortion about STDs as well as the humiliation associated with getting tested. She said many people would rather be blissfully unaware of them because they’re not scared about it.
Stewart worked with the advocacy and support group Triad Health Project during the summer. She said she worked to stop the stigma of STD testing. The Project is designed for people who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS who need both practical and emotional support.
She worked to educate the realities about STDs. She said the college culture is all about hookups and people tend to get their information from friends. Stewart said college students should attain their own information about STDs.
While as an intern with the agency, she finished projects that stressed the importance of STD education. She said the agency worked with homeless people – people of various educational levels. Stewart said many of the pamphlets about STD were difficult to read and understand even for high school students.
She wanted to make the pamphlets easier to read and understand. She developed STD pamphlets for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis that included simple symptoms descriptions, testing methods, treatment options and how to prevent the spread of the STD.
Many university students said they found these pamphlets interesting.
Kaeli Frank is a junior at the school and said Stewart needed to bring them to campus for other people to see.
Grace Niangdimlun, a first-year university student, said she had no idea there were so many ways to test for each disease. She said it’s important for people to know and understand this even if they’re not going into the healthcare field.
Despite the numerous methods for STD testing, the THP clinic has just the basic equipment for vaginal and penile testing. The staff is currently trying to attain materials for anal and oral testing for the community. THP is offering free tests to college students around Greensboro including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
The THP began offering Guilford students free STD testing five years ago. That’s no longer done, and Stewart wants to bring it back.
She said she’s been working tirelessly with the help of the Triad Health Project to bring the program back. Her plan before graduation is to reconnect Guilford and the Triad Health Project.
Stewart said everybody needs to be tested for STDs, even people who practice safe sex. She said people never know if they’re carrier for a disease until it’s too late. Stewart said she had no idea untreated syphilis could kill a person where a shot of penicillin would do the trick.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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