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Sexually Transmitted Infections

January 30, 2014, 6:12 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Sexually Transmitted Infections

It's a group of infections you don't talk about, but sexually transmitted infections are rising in South Dakota. Many of the new cases last year were people in their teens and 20s.

A group of South Dakota State University students aim to educate their peers about health-related topics.

"It's really important to get the word out," SDSU senior Lauren Uttecht said.

The students are members of a group at SDSU called Heroh or Helping Everyone Reach Optimal Health. Among the topics they've been discussing is the increase in sexually transmitted infections or STIs.

"You have all these other diseases you are worried about and there's STDs people just kind of ignore. People don't think it's a big deal," SDSU junior Allison Guindon said.

"On campus right now it's alcohol education and then nutrition. Everything else is on the back burner," Uttecht said.

But Guindon says more awareness could possibly prevent some infections.

"It's kind of taboo. People don't ask it. If you're starting a new relationship and you don't ask them, they could have it. You really need to ask," Guindon said.

The group agrees that STIs are not just a topic couples should talk about, but parents should also have a conversation with their children.

"As a parent, they all go through the birds and the bees talk, but you can be more in-depth. Have the exact conversation. Don't try to jump around the point. Try to educate your kids," SDSU junior Brian DeGrote said.

Along with more awareness, SDSU senior Courtney Kolbeck believes there could be a connection between alcohol and STIs.

"The higher the alcohol use on campus the higher impaired decision making there is," Kolbeck said.

"You went out partying and you are drunk and you just don't care to ask. It's a really big deal that you ask or immediately use a condom,"  Guindon said.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, last year there were more syphilis cases in the state than any year since 1970. The state also saw the most cases of HIV and gonorrhea since the 1980s.

For a more in-depth look at the number of STIs in the state, click here. http://doh.sd.gov/documents/statistics/ID/Dec2013.pdf

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