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Aug 20

Go Back to School in the Know

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in UC Berkeley

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess logoGo back to school in the know – meaning get tested and know your sexually transmitted infection (STI) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) status! You would be in good company with more than 4000 students getting screened for sexually transmitted infections including HIV during last academic year at UC Berkeley’s University Health Services, Tang Center. Knowing your STI/HIV status is important if you plan to be sexual with others or are hoping to have children one day. The latter is important as some infections such as Chlamydia often does not have visible symptoms in women. If left untreated Chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and possible infertility.

If you are having or have had sexual experiences the only way to know for sure that you are STI and HIV free is to get tested regularly. Sexually transmitted infection testing options involve collecting specimens in a variety of ways including a blood draw, urine sample, genital swab, or finger prick for HIV. I’ll tell you a bit more about each of these. Depending on what you are being tested for you may need more than one type of test.

Blood Draw. This type of testing involves drawing blood (hence the name) using a needle and syringe. Blood draws are useful for diagnosing viral infections such as HIV and/or for determining various strains of some viral infections such as Herpes Simplex Virus. As with any breaking of the skin, there is a small risk of infection at the testing site. However, the risk is very minimal.

Urine sample.  Urine samples may be used to test for bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. This is one of the simplest and least invasive methods for STI testing, especially for infections that may have a discharge as a common symptom.

SS know your statusSwabs (vagina, anus, throat, etc.). This type of STI testing is somewhat invasive in that your vagina, anus, throat, and in some cases your urethra may be penetrated to collect samples. This method is super useful for STI testing performed during a pelvic exam or for testing open sores. Swabbing is the best way to test for infections in the throat such as gonorrhea.

Finger Prick. Finger prick testing is one of the more recent testing options available. It is great for collecting a small amount of blood. Finger prick testing is now commonly used for HIV antibody testing.

At the Tang Center, we offer a few options to get tested for STIs/HIV  including regular medical appointments, urgent care and most recently through our self-directed testing option. Scheduling a medical appointment is the way to go if you are thinking ahead. Ask for a women’s health, men’s preventive health, or STI check appointment. Urgent care is great if you think you may have been exposed to HIV and would like to start a post-exposure prophylactic. Otherwise, if you think you may have been exposed to an STI other than HIV, there will be a window period (period from time of potential exposure to time STI may be detected via testing) and a regular medical appointment may be your best bet. Lastly, if you are at very low-risk our self-directed testing option is an excellent choice for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV testing. UC Berkeley students with our Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) have one full STI check covered per plan year. Good news, the plan year just started!!!

If you are not a UC Berkeley student or waived out of SHIP, there are still many ways for you to get tested and know your STI and HIV status. If you are in the Berkeley area, a few good options are Berkeley Free Clinic, or the Ann Chandler Public Health Center. If you are a student in West Contra Costa County, in addition to 3 Planned Parenthood locations, Brookside Community Health Center as well as the Richmond Health Center may be great options. You can also request STI and HIV testing with your primary care physician.

Though this blog post is about knowing your status it is also a great idea to educate yourself on the more common STIs including what they are, how they are transmitted, what symptoms may be associated, and how to treat various STIs should you be diagnosed with one. If you would like to chat with someone about this on the UC Berkeley campus, there are several options available to you – health and wellness coaching appointments with myself or my fabulous co-worker Queen Karen Gee, you can enroll in one of our student facilitated courses Sex 101: Topics in Sexual health, Sex and Disability, or FemSex. You can get a group of friends together and request a Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP) workshop. If you wuld like an LGBT focused workshop on HIV prevention, Berkeley Builds Capacity (BBC) has you. If you are not a UC Berkeley student, I am more than happy to educate you via phone or email about STIs and HIV. I also teach a Human Sexuality class at San Ramon Valley College enroll and learn from me in person on a regular weekly basis! However, you choose to do it, be sure you go back to school in the know. Until next time…

Keep it safe and sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.

 

 

Aug 5

Back to School Safe and Sexy for 2014

Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 in UC Berkeley

Ms. Robin, Sex Goddess logoIt’s August. You know what that means – back to school for students!!! For some student’s it’s back to the same school with friends you have known for quite a while. For others it’s time to start a new chapter at a new school! I have been in both positions many times in my life. However, I have found myself in the latter position more often. That coupled with having observed students who leave their friends and family to attend a new college has prompted me to write this back to school blog article for those students who are new to their school, college, or university – whether frosh or transfer this blog’s for you!

As the new person on campus you may feel a little awkward and out of your element. A little less than 7,000 students attended UC Berkeley for the first time as freshmen/women and transfers in fall 2013. While the numbers of frosh and transfer students for the 2014-15 year have yet to be released, rest assured you are not the only one feeling a little awkward and alone. Though academic institutions such as UC Berkeley are largely focused on academia there is also a need for social and personal development as well. It makes perfect sense. To get accepted to an institution like UC Berkeley or Stanford, as a high school student you likely spent a great deal of time focusing on school work and getting the best grades. While this is great, it is too often not coupled with social skills development.

Focusing strictly on academic skill at the expense of social skill development leaves you and other students ill prepared for navigating the social scene in college. Speaking from personal experience as well as professional observation trust me when I say social skills are a must in that most college students will do better academically if they have a social system of support. Here are a few tips to help you meet and keep new friends as you head back to school for 2014:

  1. CautionSay “hi.” One of the most common things students share with me is they don’t know how to meet people. The best advice I have for any of you who find yourself wanting to meet others is to approach the person you’re hoping to meet, smile and say “Hi. I’m_____. What’s your name?” It’s simple and easy to remember. Be sure to smile as it makes your face softer and more inviting. Assuming this first step went well and you have made a new friend, my next suggestions are for those students who may want to take your new found friendship to a sexual level.  Don’t act surprised – you knew it was coming – I’m the Sex Goddess!
  2. Proceed with caution. This is until you hear a clear and enthusiastic “yes” to your sexual request(s). Communicate your desire to have a sexual experience  to your partner. Unless your potential partner has mind reading powers, there is no other way for them to be absolutely sure that you’re interested sexually if you don’t tell them. Keep in mind that just because you tell your new friend that you’d like to be more than friends or friends with benefits, your friend may not feel the same. This does not mean they don’t want to be your friend, it just means they don’t want to be sexual with you at this time. That may or may not change. Either way, no means no. Silence means no. This is just as true for males as it is for females, transgenders, intersex people and anyone else regardless of where you fall along the gender continuum.
  3. Use condoms with each sexual experience. If you’re lucky enough to meet someone AND you’re mutually interested in sharing a sexual experience, fabulous!!! There is nothing sexier than consensual and safer sex between friends with benefits. Traditional and insertive condoms are just what you need to support each other sexually and safely. If you don’t know or are unsure how to use condoms schedule a health and wellness coaching appointment or Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP) workshop today!

While the suggestions above are great for those of you heading back to school here in the next couple of weeks or so, there is much more to consider as you prepare to go back to school. I’ll share more back to school sex tips throughout this month. Until next time…

Keep it safe and sexy,

Ms. Robin, the Sex Goddess

Have a topic or question you’d like me to address in a future Sexy Saturdays article? Send it to me at RMills@sexucation.org.

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