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Be Careful Out There! STDs Common to College Campuses

 By KSU Counseling Services Staff

What are the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on campus?

Herpes (Herpes Simplex Viruses – HSVs)

    • HSV-1 and HSV-2 can both be transmitted by direct contact with infectious skin, mucous membrane, blisters, or sores during anal, vaginal or oral sex. You can get Herpes even when there are no sores present.
    • Signs or Symptoms of Herpes – Painful blisters or sores on the genitals, rectum, or mouth that break, crust over, and heal in 2-4 weeks. These sores usually will re-appear periodically for several years. Women may have sores on the cervix that are painless.
    • Approximately one out of every five adults in the US has genital herpes. Many times individuals don't know they are infected because the symptoms are mild, or they believe their symptoms are related to another issue.
    • Herpes is commonly diagnosed by visual exam and a culture. Blood tests are sometimes available, but are expensive.

Genital Warts

    • These are caused by a strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
    • Transmission occurs by direct skin to skin contact with infected genital area, or contact with actual genital warts – usually during vaginal or anal sex.
    • Rarely, these types can also cause warts in the throat -- a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis or RRP.
    • You can be infected with HPV even if visible warts are not present.
    • Signs or Symptoms - If warts are present, they are most commonly located on the genital or anal areas.
    • Cervical cancer is associated with some HPV strains and regular PAP testing (used to detect cervical cancer in the early stages) is recommended for young women who have ever had sex.
    • Genital warts can be removed, but the virus can still be present, and warts will frequently grow back.
    • A vaccine to guard against certain types of HPV is now available. It is recommended for girls prior to first sexual intercourse.


    • Transmission occurs when Chlamydia bacteria in sexual fluids or discharge is passed from an infected person to an uninfected person by vaginal or anal sex.
    • Transmission may also occur through oral sex and from mother to infant during birth.
    • Signs or Symptoms – There are often NO symptoms. Women MAY experience unusual vaginal discharge, frequent or painful urination, pain in lower abdomen, or bleeding between periods or after intercourse. Men MAY experience discharge from penis, frequent or painful urination or burning at the tip of the penis.
    • Chlamydia is detected through a urine test or swab of the vaginal, cervical, oral, penile or rectal discharge.
    • Chlamydia is curable with antibiotics.

If you think you might have a sexually transmitted infection, seek medical attention. Tests exist for some STDs, but there is no one universal test for all STDs! Consult with medical professionals who can help you decide your next step.

Sources: Lafene Health Center, http://www.k-state.edu/lafene/faq.htm#sexhealth and California Department of Public Health, STD Control Branch, SCIP, 1st Edition.

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

Be Careful Out There! STDs Common to College Campuses (pdf)