Let’s talk: STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) testing

photo: tbdhu.com

Love - Fear

GYT - Make your appointment!

So you’re no virgin – you fooled around in high school and had a “went all the way” partner before coming to Ohio State.  But now you’ve met a special person, and things are getting pretty serious.  When do you start talking about testing?

As a doctor at Student Health, I have talked to students that have made different decisions when it comes to sex and STI testing. Some get tested before they ever have any sex.  Some do it before they decide to have penetrative sex (you know, intercourse, either vaginal or anal).  Some decide to get tested when they are ready to stop using condoms with their partner. (which opens up a whole can of worms when it comes to preventing pregnancy, but that is a different post.)  

So, which decision is the right one? Let’s compare another situation:

  • Person 1 likes to put on her seat belt as soon as she gets in the car,
  • Person 2 waits until she is pulling out of the Lennox parking lot and onto the street, and
  • Person 3 only wears hers when driving on the freeway. 

Who is the safest? Who is right? It’s hard to say because everyone thinks about risk and how much risk they are willing to take on differently.  That is why you must talk to your partner about STI’s.  Don’t assume that they will decide for you, or that you can decide for your partner.  TALK. 

Need some suggestions for getting ready for the TALK?  Visit the GYT site for some talking tips

Ready to get tested?  Visit our web site or call for more information and to get it done.  All enrolled OSU students are eligible to be seen at Student Health Services, right here next door to the RPAC. 

See you soon.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Do YOU know if you have HIV?


Order-It-Yourself Testing

June 27 is National HIV Testing Day.  Does this mean this is the only day to think about HIV testing?  Think again, Brutus. We just want all Buckeyes to be more aware of this important test.  The CDC recommends that EVERYONE from age 13 to 64 be tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime. If you have risk factors, such as multiple sexual partners, injecting drugs, or participating in higher risk sexual activity, then get tested at least once a year. 

HIV takes about 3 months after infection to show up on a blood test, so if you have a risky encounter, you want to get tested a couple times in the months to follow, to catch the infection early. 

Catching the infection early is the key.  Early detection helps get infected people to medical care, which allows for treatment to help slow disease progression.  In many cases, that means before the person develops immune suppression.  Early detection also allows time for people to learn other things they can do to stay healthy and avoid exposing other people to infection. Ultimately, that means healthier people, fewer people with advancing disease, fewer HIV deaths, and fewer new infections.

And if you test negative, then no worries??  Hang on, don’t start tweeting your newfound healthy status yet.  A negative test is your sign that you need to think about your future exposure risks, so you can stay negative. 

And, don’t forget, this is but one disease you might pick up during a hook-up. The GYT site can educate you on other risks, and Student Health can do a full sexually transmitted disease screening, to assess your status for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, and other infections to be named later. No time for a full screening?  You can also access STD tests through our OIY program

Stay safe.  Get Tested.

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Get Yourself Tested. Know Your Status.

Wilce Student Health Center

We have covered several topics related to STD’s this month: getting tested, safer sex, and some STD-related vaccines.  However, sex means lots of things to different people, and it is very important that you (and your clinician) know your exposures and risks in determining what tests need to be done. 

You need to share:

  • How many partners (male, female, or both) you have had.
  • All sexual activities you had with them.
  • Whether or not protection was used.
  • What previous screening you have done.
  • Whether or not you are having any symptoms.

If you are sexually active, have been with more than one person, and were negative at your last screening or have never been tested, you should consider:

  • Urine testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, if you are a male who has had vaginal sex, insertive anal sex  or if you are a female who has had vaginal sex.
  • A rectal swab for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, if you’ve had receptive anal sex.
  • Blood testing for HIV and Syphilis.
  • An examination to check out any bumps, sores, growths that have appeared since your last screening.

A word about oral sex – Risks and testing related to oral sex are somewhat sketchy. If you give oral sex, infections can occur in your mouth or throat, but may be hard to detect. In rare cases, you may also get infections when you receive oral sex. Testing is available for certain types of oral infections.  Talk to your clinician about these risks and tests.

Other tests such as for hepatitis B and C, may be needed for some people, as well.

Once you are tested negative, consider a regular screening schedule every six months, or more often if you are concerned about exposures or symptoms.  For more information, visit the GYT site and read the STD testing FAQ’s.

Please be aware that recommended tests done after you meet with your clinician OFTEN ARE NOT covered under health insurance benefits.   Check out your coverage before your visit, and consider paying for these tests yourself if you are not covered. 

At the end of the day, being well informed, using safer sex methods correctly, and getting screened appropriately will help keep you healthy, and that keeps your next partner healthy, and their next partner, and so on. 

Be Safe! 

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Safer Sex is cool, isn’t it?


As college health clinicians, we have been preaching safer sex to students for years.  Are those messages getting through to students that have had HIV as part of their lives since they were born?  An 18 year old first-year student in 2011 was born:

  • 12 years after the HIV epidemic was first detected
  • 3 years after we passed the 1 million mark in persons living with AIDS/HIV globally

By the time that student reached puberty, messages about HIV prevention had become part of the standard vocabulary, using the term “safer sex”.  Knowing that all sexual activity involving more than one person always carries some risk, our efforts are meant to reduce those risks, making sex “safer”.

So, what does the typical college student in 2011 need in terms of safer sex education?  We know that risk behavior still exists, both in sexually-transmitted infections (STI) and unintended pregnancy.  Otherwise, there would be a blank screen whenever you tune into “Teen Mom” and ”16 and pregnant”. The recent increases in syphilis and HPV would not be happening, either.

Want some basic facts about preventing HIV, other STIs and pregnancy?  The GYT (Get Yourself Tested) site has a great table of links to nearly all methods of practicing safer sex, from things that work (barriers, pills, shots, rings), to things that don’t work (peeing after sex??).  Visit the PROTECT page at GYT to learn more. 

Give us your comments about what you think is the most effective messaging to use on campus, and we will take a look at your recommendations.  But be warned, walking around campus in a condom suit has already been taken off the table. 

Stay Healthy!

Roger Miller, MD

Student Health Services

The Ohio State University


Get Yourself Tested for STD Awareness

GYT - Make your appointment!

Order-It-Yourself Testing

April is National Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month, and the CDC and other organizations are teaming up with MTV to sponsor GYT (Get Yourself Tested).org.  Click on this link to check out their web site. 

Do you know that Chlamydia is one of the most common STD’s that does not cause symptoms? 

Yes, Brutus, that means you can get it, have it, AND share it without knowing about it. 

GYT has opened the Chlamydia clinic, so come on in the waiting room and get educated about this disease.  Just click on their questions, and get some answers.  Symptoms or not, all sexually active women under 25 should get a Chlamydia test each year, and men should consider a yearly test, too, if they are at risk. 

Ready to get tested?  Student Health Services is one of many places where you can be tested for STD’s.  You can call us for an appointment, or, if you like, confidential STD tests are available through our OIY (Order It Yourself) program without an appointment.  If you test positive, it is essential that you be seen for appropriate counseling and treatment. 

Next week – is safer sex still cool?

Roger Miller, MD

Student Health Services

The Ohio State University

Would you really pee on your cell phone to see if you had an STI!?


Just came across a very interesting article (with some of the best comments I’ve seen in a long time) on MSNBC’s technolog:

Got a funny feeling in your nether-region but too embarrassed to ask your doctor what it might be? If a group of British researchers have their way, your mobile phone will soon be able to tell you if you’ve got an STD.

So scientists in England are developing kits – kind of like home pregnancy tests – that you buy for a couple of bucks at the grocery store or in a vending machine at your favorite bar.  You just put a little saliva or urine on this computer chip, plug it into your phone (or computer) and voila’ – within a few minutes it’ll tell you if you have an STI, which one, and what you need for treatment.   

Who knows if and when this technology will become a reality, but it’s exciting because it addresses a very important issue in young people.  STI’s can be a serious threat to your health, but many students are too afraid/embarrassed/busy/broke to come in and get checked out.  

We are trying to tackle the same issue here at the Student Health Center.  We now offer “OIY” (Order It Yourself) lab testing.  You can get tested for STI’s and certain other medical conditions without having to make an appointment or even talk to a health care provider.  I admit it’s not quite as convenient (or cheap) as the “Dr. Who Hump Drive” but at least we actually exist and the results are monitored by a real live doctor.

Of course, if you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection (or any other medical problem), the safest thing to do is to come in and see us.  We know it’s a little embarassing, but believe me, we do this every day – there’s nothing we haven’t seen before and we don’t have a judgmental bone in our building.  We can answer all of your questions, check for other problems, diagnose and treat you all at once.  And so far, there ain’t an app for that…

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Final installment

Get Yourself Tested

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 5!

Last week, we blogged about getting yourself psyched to make an appointment.  Now, you have an appointment.  You have marked it in your calendar, entered it in your iTouch or iPhone, put it on your Outlook, and (my favorite) written it on your arm.

Next step, talking to the clinician.  That part isn’t so bad. Granted, most of us look like your mom and dad, but we are part of the Office of Student Life.  We know college students.  We have been inside residence halls and dining commons.  We have helped with Move-in. We have tailgated.  Want to know more?  Look us up here.

Best of all, we know you are nervous and a little worried about coming in for an STD visit.  We will do our best to calm you down and listen to your concerns.  You can also learn a lot in a short time with us.

To be ready to get the most from your visit, take a look at the “Talking to your provider” tips at the GYT site.

Ok, you are ready.  Don’t waste a pigeon or bust a window getting this done.  GYT. Get yourself tested.  Do it soon.

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD 


Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Are you there yet?

GYT - Make your appointment!

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 4!

Ok, it’s the third week of April, and STD Awareness Month is flying by.  Have you gotten yourself tested?  If you are sexually active and at risk, you need to get moving. 

One of the toughest things about testing is taking the first step.  Are you:

  • Embarrassed to call and make an appointment?
  • Afraid the person on the phone will think less of you?
  • Worried about confidentiality?
  • Afraid of walking into the clinician’s office and talking face to face?
  • Thinking that you couldn’t possibly talk about your sexual history?
  • Concerned that someone you know will see you?
  • Wondering if Mom, or Dad (or Aunt Rose in Pittsburgh) will find out you were here?
  • Not sure what to ask?

To ease your mind, here are some facts:

  • Student Health Services staff works with college students all the time and we won’t judge you
  • We know you worry about confidentiality and we protect your trust to the fullest extent possible
  • If you are 18 or older, we will not talk to Aunt Rose or anyone without your consent
  • We get to talk to students about lots of things – nothing much will shock us, if you know what I mean
  • Wilce Student Health Services is a busy place, so if you see your lab partner, tell them you are here to talk about hair loss, or athlete’s foot, or something less embarrassing

Ok, ready to take that first step?  Here you go:

  • Decide where you want to go – Student Health, Community Clinic, Health Department, Private Doctor?  
  • If you are coming to Wilce Student Health Center, call 292-4321
  • When you get on the phone, just say “I’d like an STD screen, please.”

If you need more inspiration to make that appointment, take a look at this message from the President.

NEXT WEEK – Talking to your doc.

See you at Wilce!  (Don’t worry, I’ll pretend I don’t know you.)

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD 


GYT – What are the risks?

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 3

Survivor, Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars

Every night, TV offers us some version of “reality” programming, In 1994, one of the first reality shows, MTV’s Real World, actually did deal with something very real in our lives – the HIV epidemic.  Their house included a groundbreaking reality character named Pedro Zamora.

Pedro’s story was very real — at age 17 he tested positive for HIV and made the decision to share a very personal journey to raise awareness about the realities of the disease. Pedro’s experience, far too short because he died at the age of 22, is recreated in a new film airing on MTV called PEDRO, which is viewable online at this link. The timing couldn’t be better to incorporate this film as part of STD Awareness Month and our GYT blogs.

Consider this:

  • Nearly 50 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 35 percent are currently sexually active
  • Nearly 15 percent of high school students have had sex with four or more people
  • At least one in four teenage girls has an STD
  • Having another STD can make it 5 times more likely for a person to acquire HIV from a sexual partner

It is fortunate that HIV has become a much more manageable disease now, 16 years after Pedro’s death.  But HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and others can still lead to major health consequences.

That’s why the premiere of PEDRO is so important. It is a moving experience to watch this vital and active young adult’s health decline.  It reminds us to stop being complacent, to be vocal, and to continue to dispel the myths and stigma that persist about sexually transmitted infections.

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD

GYT – STD Testing – Get the Facts

Taking a patient's medical history.

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 2!

Since April is STD Awareness Month, this seems like a good time to blog about what an STD check visit is like at Student Health.  So who gets STD testing at SHS?  Students who:

  • have symptoms (like burning or itching with urination, discharge, painful intercourse)
  • feel fine, but are scared about possible exposures
  • feel fine, but want a check-up because they are with a new partner
  • have occasional hook-ups, and want to make sure they haven’t acquired anything
  • come in for other problems that turn out to be STDs (Surprise!) 

Whatever brings you in, our SHS clinicians are happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have about STD’s: symptoms you may have, concerns about your partner, ways to protect yourself, and many other subjects.  SHS offers confidential tests for reasonable cost including:

  • urine testing for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
  • blood testing for HIV and Syphilis. 

As always, check with your insurance company regarding possible coverage for medical tests.

In addition, our friends at the Student Wellness Center at the RPAC offer free anonymous oral HIV tests that give results in minutes. 

Take a look at this link for a 3 minute STD testing visit video from the GYT website, and check out this FAQ on STD testing.

Good Sexual Health!!

Roger Miller, MD for BuckMD