Opinion: Sexual health information is a necessity for students


ARC student looks at the flyer for the Sexual Health Clinic. (Photo by Cheyenne Drury)

Solange Echeverria

The American River College Health Clinic is working hard to help students take care of themselves by partnering with community provider Women’s Health Specialists to provide a variety of reproductive health care services.

For many students, college is an exciting time, whether you are jumping in right after high school or an older student returning after many years.

It is also a busy time, where we juggle very real responsibilities of work, family and school, rushing through life in pursuit of our goals.

It’s in this harried place where sometimes our attention to our health, especially our sexual and reproductive health, can fall to the wayside.

The numbers are sobering. According to a 2014 report released by the Center for Disease Control, young people ages 25-24 account for nearly half of all new Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) diagnosed every year.

The reasons for the high numbers are complex. Some say it’s because sex education is underfunded in high schools, others say the newly found freedom of college life is a contributing factor, others say that social stigmas regarding STI’s is at fault.

These stigmas may come from many different cultural or religious forces, just talking about sex is still taboo, much less being sexually active or accessing health care services. This can lead to shame or embarrassment when it comes to taking control of our health.

Regardless, accepting the need to value sexual health and talking about it with our partners and with our medical providers is a good first step in taking care of ourselves.

According to Pamela Whipple, a nurse at the Student Health Center, the Sexual Health Clinic is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment with drop-ins available.

The clinic offers birth control, emergency birth control, pregnancy testing and STI testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The clinic is welcoming to students of all gender identities and respects preferred gender pronouns.

George Hillman, a Communications Major, feels that it is important for young men to know where they stand with regards to their sexual reproductive health.

“I think if you are going to be intimate with someone, it’s good to make sure that you are not going to hurt them.” said Hillman. “We need to feel comfortable, so I’m glad that they understand that. I didn’t even know they were here. It’s good to know, makes it easier.”

According to Whipple, there are a variety of reasons people may find it difficult to seek out services or talk about sexual health.

“Fear of stigma and prejudice sometimes prevent people from seeking sexual health services,” Whipple said.

As a long time nurse, she has seen the pendulum swing to the positive side.

“…many of the students we serve regard sexual health services like any other service,” Whipple said.

Malmoud Mahabad, a Business Major, thinks that it’s especially important for everyone to care for themselves. “It would help them if they have any issue. When they come here, they can check with the staff. It’s a natural part of life”

 Taking care of your sexual health is a critical part of your overall health care and respect for your sexual health can impact you for years to come.

The Sexual Health Clinic is located in the Student Health Center, right down the hall from Enrollment Services in the ARC Administration building.

The health clinic open every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. by appointment. They do serve drop-ins but priority is given to those with appointments so they are strongly encouraged.

To make an appointment, please call the Health Center at 916 484-8383, they will be glad you did, and so will you.