The common misconception is that STDs can only be attributed to reckless party behavior and one-night stands with incredibly attractive strangers. The stigma of being labeled sexually promiscuous is almost always the reason people are reluctant to visit their college campus health center. But that's only one side of the truth. STDs can cause a rift in monogamous relationships too. And it's not just a matter of someone cheating. Because STD symptoms sometimes lie dormant, a person can contract a disease in a previous relationship, and long after calling it quits, carry that disease into a new relationship.

Regardless of how a disease is transmitted, the more important thing to keep in mind is that it's always preventable. And for that reason, you should never feel embarrassed visiting your campus health center. In fact, it's better to go in confident, ask questions and take the necessary precautions to maintain your health. Because ultimately your health is about your relationship with your body. 

The number of reported cases of  STDs and STIs in the U.S. is steadily rising, a report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows. The report also states that the population most at risk for contracting STDs is between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. Furthermore, people within the ages of 15 and 24 account for half of the 20 million new sexually transmitted infections that occur in the United States each year. That's almost exclusively the college demographic. 

Listen, no one is here to judge. We live in a day and age whereby people are more open and sexually fluid. We also have more access to information about healthcare and knowledge of preventative measures. 

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And although there is an undeniable skepticism — and to an extent distrust — among African Americans when it comes to trustworthiness of health practitioners due to cases like the Tuskegee experiment and it's lasting effects, we have to be sure to take care of ourselves. Because in doing so, we take care of each other. 

So, don't be embarrassed about knowing what's out there, what you're at risk of catching, and communicating with your partner about ways to ensure you both are (and stay) free of or in control of STIs/STDs.

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