Having engaged in my fair share of irresponsible debauchery over the course of this school year, I recently decided to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections. My motivation for doing so was twofold.
First, I owed it to myself. Acknowledging I could have potentially contracted an infection from one of the people with whom I became too quickly intimately acquainted,was nerve-wracking.
Second, and more importantly, I felt I owed it to any future lover. After all, how can I, in good conscience, engage in sexual relations with someone if I’m unsure of my own sexual health?
Upon making the decision to get tested, I figured I’d take the path of least resistance and go to the Snow Health Center. After all, it’s the medical facility of a public university. I thought for sure it would not only provide testing, but also offer it at a reasonable rate.
Much to my surprise, the receptionist informed me that a visit to be tested for STIs would cost me more than $100. This is outrageous.
According to Stanford University’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, 20-25 percent of college students have been infected with an STI. That means one out of every four students you sleep with is likely to have something. There are two reactions to this information.
The first is to insist upon abstinence. Of course, some people do insist on it fervently, but most people find it impractical.
The second more realistically productive and appropriate reaction is to make readily available the means necessary for people to engage in sex responsibly. This means universal dissemination of sexual education, availability of appropriate contraceptives and access to affordable testing.
Charging more than $100 for STI testing is not affordable for college students.
I would understand entirely if infection affected only those infected, however that simply is not the case.
Often, those who are infected have no idea they’re carrying. Symptoms sometimes take years to manifest. And in the time it takes for these people to discover their condition, they’ve spread it to numerous other people, who have in turn spread it to many more.
In this way, STIs constitute a public health problem. The function of infection versus time is ever-increasing, and the only way to reduce its slope is to fight it proactively. This means encouraging people to be tested regularly so they can be knowledgeable about their own sexual health and make appropriate decisions based on that information.
I struggle earnestly to understand how any self-respecting campus medical facility can charge such a heinous fee to people who are endeavoring to be sexually responsible adults. It’s not only inexcusably unjust; it is entirely unproductive in the pursuit to stem the spread of STIs.
Of course, EMU may hide behind numbers, claiming their practices are not uncommon among universities. This is true. Both Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University charge similar fees for testing.
However, since when has “it’s what everybody else is doing” been a valid justification for corrupt behavior? Moreover, were it legitimate argumentation, it wouldn’t even hold in this instance.
Most county health departments offer testing for free. They humbly request you pay whatever you can afford to, however they do not make payment prerequisite to being tested.
If underfunded county health clinics can afford to provide free testing, then why can’t government- and student-funded campus facilities do so as well?
To be clear, I am not arguing STI testing is simply a universal right. I am passionately insisting it is a duty, a public service, a responsibility taken when one engages in any sexual activity in which bodily fluids are exchanged.
It is morally bankrupt to charge such an outrageous fee to people who are trying to do what is right. This practice needs to end and we, collectively as a student body, must insist upon it.