Story by Bailey Berg
Several weeks ago, it was announced that Polk County, where Drake University students and more then 437,000 Iowans call home, saw a serious spike in sexually transmitted diseases. According to ABC 5 Des Moines, syphilis has jumped 400 percent and more than 200 new cases of chlamydia are being diagnosed every month in Polk County alone.
LuAnn Volkmer from the Drake Student Health Center said there are a number of plans and procedures put in place to help Drake students if they need it. If a student suspects that he or she may have contracted an STD, Volkmer urges that they come into the health center to be tested.
“If you have symptoms, you will be treated when you are tested,” Volkmer said. “We provide medications for chlamydia and gonorrhea at no cost to students. The nurse practitioner can also write a prescription for an antiviral medication for herpes.”
Volkmer said another option for students who do not wish to be treated at the health center is that they could also be tested at the Polk County Health Department for free.
The Planned Parenthood Susan Knapp Health Center on the 2300 block of University Ave. can also handle testing, diagnosis and treatment for a myriad of STDs by walk-in or appointment. Additionally, they offer prevention tools such as both male and female condoms, dental dams, the HPV vaccine Gardasil, a hepatitis B vaccine and safe sex education.
Volkmer said she suspects that there were a number of untreated cases of STDs in the Polk County area, so the diseases were able to spread to other partners without being detected which led to the jump in numbers.
The best ways for students to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases of all kinds are abstinence, condoms and a human papilloma virus vaccination, Volkmer said.
“Be safe, not sorry,” Volkmer said.