According to a survey of 2,000 current and former college students conducted by CollegeStats.org and DrEd.com, only 38 percent of college students consistently use a condom during sex.
The study also concluded a direct relationship between the number of sexual partners and how likely someone is to use a condom. Additionally, men are more likely to not use a condom, with 75 percent of men saying they only use a condom when their partner asks them to.
A multitude of reasons answer why condom use among college students is low.
Adirondack Hall Residential Director of at Plattsburgh State Nick Kelley believes that college students often underestimate the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.
“They probably think that they won’t get anything, or if they do get something, it would be a quick fix,” Kelley said.
Director of the Student Health and Counseling center at PSUC Kathleen Camelo believes improvements in treating HIV, a viral infection contracted during sex that impairs a human body’s ability to fight infections, may play a role in college students using condoms less.
“Condom use became much more popular when we were really worried about HIV,” Camelo said. “And now, you don’t hear as much about HIV because now the medications are getting better in terms of treatment, and students aren’t as afraid.”
Camelo also added that students may become complacent with their sexual partners after a few months and students not thinking clearly while under the influence of drugs or alcohol as other possible reasons for a decrease in condom use.
Kelley believes sexual education plays a vital role in increasing condom use among college students. Having conversations with residents about contraceptive methods and STI’s in Adirondack Hall and working with the Student Health and Counseling Center are two educational ideas Kelley wants to implement more as an RA. Last semester, Kelley held a safer-sex program inside Adirondack Hall.
“I showed how to properly put on a condom using a hair curler,” Kelley said.
Camelo said students might not know about certain programs through the Student Health Center that are meant for them to have safe sex. The Student Health Center receives condoms from a New York state condom program that are free for students to take.
“We want to give them out,” Camelo said. “We’re not here to save them. We want them where they need to be.”
Camelo said students will be more aware of sexual education programs the Student Health Center runs once their own website is live.
PSUC shouldn’t force students to take a sexual education class to inform them about STDs and contraceptive methods, but it should be strongly encouraged, Kelley said. Some students may feel uncomfortable taking a sex-ed class and a sex-ed class may intrude on someone’s cultural beliefs.
Kelley and Camelo both agree that more can be done at PSUC to combat the decreased use of condoms among students.
“A lot of sex-education topics and work has gone by the wayside, and we need to refocus our efforts,” Kelley said.
Email Nate Mundt at firstname.lastname@example.org