Santa Clara University

Wellness Center

The Truth About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

SCU Policy Statement on Sexually Transmitted Infections
Santa Clara University, a Catholic, Jesuit university is aware that sexually transmitted infections are a potential health problem for the entire population. Santa Clara University and the Cowell Student Health Center provide educational opportunities about the transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. These educational opportunities are provided with consideration of confidentiality, sensitivity and compassion. Educational programs address medical information, issues of prevention, and the social, psychological, spiritual and legal ramifications related to sexually transmitted infections.

The Cowell Student Health Center (554-4501) provides confidential appointments with physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and registered nurses regarding sexual health issues. These appointments may include evaluation, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

Facts About STIs

  • One in five people in the United States has an STI
  • Two-thirds of all STIs occur in people 25 years of age or younger
  • Cervical cancer in women is linked to Human Papillomavirus
  • Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV
  • STIs, other than HIV, cost about $8 billion each year to diagnose and treat
  • One in five Americans have genital herpes, yet at least 80 percent of those with herpes are unaware they have it
  • At least one in four Americans will contract an STI at some point in their lives
  • Human Papillomavirus is the most common STI in the United States
  • More than 5 million people are infected with HPV each year
  • Less than half of adults ages 18 to 44 have ever been tested for an STI other than HIV/AIDS
  • At least 15 percent of all infertile American women are infertile because of tubal damage caused by pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), the result of an untreated STI
  • Two-thirds of Hepatitis B (HBV) infections are transmitted sexually and are linked to chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer
  • Source:

What Are Sexually Transmitted Infections?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STI's) can affect anyone. Every year approximately 12 million new STI cases occur in the United States. At this time, there are roughly 50 identified organisms and syndromes (aka: STI's) identified by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). STI's can be either viral or bacterial infections-with some treatable and others that are non-responsive to drug treatments.


How Are STI's Spread?
Sexually transmitted infections are often spread through sexual activity including vaginal, anal and oral sex. HIV and hepatitis B can also be transmitted through blood. The only way to ensure that you do not contract an STI is through abstinence. However, through safer sex practices, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting an STI.


Click on the following links to read about the different STIs

It is important to note that with most sexually transmitted infections, both partners must be treated to prevent re-infecting one another. It is important to know, that viral STI's (e.g., HIV, HPV, Herpes) have no cure, so safe sex practices are vital to prevent further transmission.

STI Myth vs. Fact

MYTH: If I only engage in oral sex, I can't contract a sexually transmitted infection
FACT: STIs can be transmitted through oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex and in some cases, heavy petting. Penile penetration is not a prerequisite for disease transmission. In fact, the number of cases of gonorrhea of the throat are increasing!

MYTH:  If I have an STI, I will recognize the symptoms immediately
most women (and some men), there are often virtually NO symptoms of STIs. Not only can a partner not tell if a woman or man has an STI, the person with the STI often does not know.

MYTH: I am not promiscuous and neither are the people I hang out with…it's unlikely that the people I would sleep with would be carrying something
FACT:  Females are more susceptible to acquiring STIs than males because their anatomy is more prone to infection in general. In addition, contracting STIs has nothing to do with cleanliness or grooming. Contracting an STI has everything to do with being intimate with someone who is already infected. The more partners you have or have had, the greater your chances of having an STI. The more partners your partner has or has had, the greater your partner's chances of having a STI.

MYTH:  I can avoid infection and pregnancy if I douche immediately following sexual intercourse
ome women believe that flushing the vagina with water or antiseptic is good hygiene, and prevents infection or pregnancy. However, douching does not prevent infection and may cause problems by destroying useful bacteria in the vagina which help keep the area healthy. It's just easier to use a condom!

More Sexual Health Information

Campus Resources:
Wellness Center         554-4409  **educational material on STIs, private consultation
Cowell Health Center   554-4501  **STI testing and medical care


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