“Approximately 19 million STD infections are diagnosed annually in the United States” . This shocking number took my attention. I did not realize that these many infections were diagnosed each year and 9.5 million of them happen among people at such a young age between 15 and 24. The spread of these STD infections can be caused by poor knowledge of condom use and other sexual contraceptives. About “80% of college students have engaged in sexual intercourse”, but only one-third of them use condoms . I believe that knowledge about these issues should be addressed in a required class in the first year of college because the spread of STD diseases can be preventable if people are educated. Emory used to have PE 101 required our freshmen year that taught us some basics about sexual health, which was a good attempt. But I feel most people did not really care and realize the gravity of the issues.
People also seem to take part in riskier sexual activities when heavily intoxicated . This may seem obvious, but should actually be taken seriously. In a journal article published in American Psychology titled “Substance use and risky sexual behavior for exposure to HIV: Issues in methodology, interpretation, and prevention”, it is stated that “people who are heavier drinkers or drug users tend to have more sexual partners and to use condoms less consistently” . This may be due to the fact of alcohol’s effect on decision making and false confidence. Even recently, there have been some reports supporting these claims . However, alcohol’s effect does vary amongst different individuals and the sexual situation. Sample size needs to be taken account for and I feel there would be varying results based on different environments.
On the other hand, some studies show quite the opposite, supporting the idea that there is no relationship of alcohol consumption and condom use, but a “positive relationship of overall frequency of drinking with sex and overall frequency of condom use” . These two results are polar opposites and goes with the claim that alcohol affects people differently. One study takes this idea one step further and observes alcohol and condom use by various type of sexual encounters. In a study published in Sexual Transmitted Diseases titled “Alcohol and condom use: a meta-analysis of event-level studies”, it was stated that drinking during the first intercourse had a correlation with lower condom usage, but afterwards during recent sexual encounters alcohol was not correlated with condom use . This study make the claim that alcohol does not always link to unprotected sex, but the relationship between the two depends on “content and sexual experience of the partner” .
The two differing views both hold their validity but I have to agree with the one that says alcohol’s effect on condom use varies among individuals. Each person is different and has varying backgrounds and knowledge. Some people maybe have started learning about sexual health as early as middle school, whereas maybe some people just became aware of it in college. Maybe condom use is second nature to certain people and they can just perform the necessary precautions before intercourse without even thinking. Family background also has a lot to do with it as well: some families may be more conservative and traditional not speaking about sex, whereas other families can be more open about the topic of sex. Even though individual’s knowledge can vary before coming to college, I feel everyone should be on the same page at least during the first year of college about education in STDs, contraceptives and sexual health in general.
 Condom Use with a Casual Partner: What Distinguishes College Students’ Use When Intoxicated? by Antonia Abbey, Michele R. Parkhill, Philip O. Buck, and Christopher Saenz.
 Leigh, B., Stall, R. (1993) Substance use and risky sexual behavior for exposure to HIV: Issues in methodology, interpretation, and prevention. Am Psychol 48(10): 1035-1045.
 Leigh, B.C. (2002) Alcohol and condom use: a meta-analysis of event-level studies. Sex Transm Dis 29(8):476-82.