Life at university is not just about study. It can be about living away from home and managing finances for the first time, reaching the drinking age, meeting new people from all walks of life, and making decisions about who you want to get to know. It may also be a time when you explore your sexuality and decide whether or not to be sexually active.
Figuring out if, how, when, why, where and with whom to be sexually active are topics we want you to be clear and confident about. For information about safe sex, STIs and where to get tested, check out NSW Health's Play Safe website.
Five Fast Facts About STIs
- You can have an STI and not know it! There are many types of STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections. Some have obvious symptoms while others might not show symptoms for some time. This means that if you have been sexually active, you could have an STI and not know it! Some STIs, such as HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), can result in cancer. Having an STI also increases the risk of HIV transmission (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
- Rates of STIs have increased! The number of people diagnosed with STIs has increased. Chlamydia is the most common reported STI, and the majority of notifications are in the 15 -29 year age group. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility..
- STIs can be tested and treated! STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be easily detected via a simple urine test by your doctor or nearest sexual health clinic. BBVs, or blood borne viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis B, require a blood test, while other conditions such as pubic lice or scabies require a visual check. Click here for details about detection, treatment and your nearest sexual health clinic
- You can prevent STIs! Condoms and dams provide a physical barrier between you and sexually transmitted bacteria and viruses. While it is still possible to contract STIs such as herpes or genital warts when using protection, condoms and dams do minimise the overall risk of contracting or spreading an STI. You can also minimise the spread of parasites such as lice or scabies via prompt treatment. If you are sexually active, always use protection.
- You can ask the question! You can't tell if someone has an STI just by looking at them. Before thinking about sex, ask your potential partner if they have been tested for STIs, and ask for protection to be used. For more information on how to negotiate for safe and consensual sex, read on. Also, do kiss and tell! If you have an STI, let past and present partners know. Get tested and treated so that when a future partner asks if you have been tested, you can say yes! Check out the Let Them Know website for more information about notifying others and about how your doctor can help you do this confidentially. If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, check out the Better To Know website.
FAQs About Sexual Health
1. What does "Safe Sex" mean?
Safe Sex means:
- Protection from STIs and BBVs. Read on.
- Protection from unwanted pregnancy. Read on.
- Freely agreed to or consensual sexual activity. Read on for the why and how of consensual sex
2.What do I do if I have an STI?
5. Where can I get condoms?
While condoms can be purchased at supermarkets and pharmacies, free condoms are available for on-campus UNE students at uni4me. Check out the uni4me sexual health webpage for more info. In addition, condom vending machines ($1 packs that include 2 condoms and lubricant) are located on campus at:
- The Bistro male and female toilets
- Mary White College, collonade toilet in the foyer
- Austin College male toilet in foyer
6. What if I am attracted to someone of the same sex?
Check out sex and sexual health information at ACON, Family Planning Victoria as well as Twenty10 that supports young people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities. Q Life also provides peer supported phone and web-based services. Fenway Health in the US has produced the following brochure with clear safer sex information. Contact the UNE GSMA Gender and Sexuality Minorities Alliance to get involved with the supportive network within the Armidale queer community.