Plattsburgh State students enjoyed pizza and candy while awaiting their free sexually transmitted disease screening at the campus health center.
PSUC nursing majors Alice Ye and Emily Rampulla are currently enrolled in a course that requires them to formulate safety clinical projects along with completing 67.5 clinical hours at the Alliance for Positive Health.
APH is a community health center in Plattsburgh whose mission statement is to “reduce the impact and incidence of HIV/AIDS and other serious medical and social conditions.” They decided to focus their project on educating students about sexually transmitted diseases.
Prior to coordinating the event, Ye and Rampulla surveyed 163 PSUC students about whether they have ever been screened for STDs or STIs.
Forty-four percent of students polled had never been screened.
APH provided Ye and Rampulla with the funds for Hepatitis C and HIV screenings along with pamphlets, information cards about STDs and free condoms for students.
Because APH was unable to provide staff members to conduct screenings, Ye and Rampulla contacted the campus health center to see if they had staff to spare. The two advertised the event by sending emails to all campus sport coaches and all greek life organizations.
“We wanted to focus our project on minimizing STD and STI on campus because within Clinton County there has been a high rise in chlamydia and gonorrhea,” Ye said.
Ye and Rampulla incorporated what they learned from their nursing course into this project, one of which being the “harm-reduction strategy,” which are tips on how to stay safe from STDs and STIs.
The two explained how using condoms, lubricants and Intrauterine Devices, or IUDs, could ensure a clean bill of health to incoming students.
PSUC students were seated in the health center lounge to await their name and get screened. Health center staff collected urine and blood samples from students and stated the negative results would come in the form of an email, while a positive result would come in a phone call.
“I feel like a lot of people know they should get tested but don’t take the steps to [get tested],” PSUC nursing major Tonimarie Carter said.
“People should be more aware [of STDs] because the survey shows that a lot of students on campus don’t use condoms.”
Kathleen Camelo, director of the Student Health and Counseling Center for 25 years, has conducted free screenings for PSUC students for the past seven spring semesters, but decided to hold this kind of event earlier in the year because of Ye and Rampulla’s project.
“It could be difficult to make a good decision when you get into [a sexual] situation,” Camelo said. “We hope to get students to think before they act and think about consequences.”
Camelo explained how fear and embarrassment often times stops students from coming into the health center for a screening.
She encourages students to get screened even if they fear the worst. The health center also offers an alternative entrance for students who want to request a screening in private.
“It’s good to get periodically tested based on your level of risk,” Camelo said. “The soonest would be every three months. We realize it’s difficult at times, but we are all human.”