The Hawai‘i Health Department
reported in October 2002, that STDs and STIs have increased
in the past three years after 20 years of steady decline. According
to the report, the top three STDs increasing in Hawai‘i
are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
Chlamydia is the most common and widespread of the three. It
can affect the cervix, urethra, throat, rectum, and the upper
reproductive organs. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility,
sterility, and can spread to the cervix, bladder or urethra,
the fallopian tubes, and many more complications. About 64 percent
of chlamydia-infected patients are 24 years old or younger.
Gonorrhea causes a rash or sores in the infected area. If left
untreated, it may also cause heart or mental disorders, blindness,
problems involving the nervous system, and death. Half the cases
reported are people 15-to-20- year olds.
Syphilis also affects men or women, but according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, it is increasingly prevalent
with men who sleep with other men. It had a 90 percent increase
from 2001 to 2002. Like other STDs, syphilis is common among
sexually active people 15 to 30 years old.
Two HPU students (their names have been withheld) had similar
experiences after having a routine medical examination. Both
were shocked to find out they had STDs. Because they had no symptoms
that might have indicated something wrong, neither had gotten
regular checkups after becoming sexually active.
The first student reported that her OB/GYN had diagnosed her
with chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cell
abnormalities on the cervix, increases risk for cervical cancer,
and may cause genital warts. “What was scary was that I
want to have kids later,” she explained, “but these
conditions could affect fertility. Because the doctor caught
it early, I have a chance to have kids. I just have to be more
careful and get regular checkups,” she said.
The second student was in a committed relationship, and she
and her boyfriend were both healthy, so, she said, she didn’t
think she needed to go to an OB/GYN. “When I went to get
a pap smear, I found out I had chlamydia, which indicated that
my boyfriend had cheated on me,” she said. “I later
found out that he was a ‘high-risk partner,’” because
he had multiple partners, which increases the risk of infection,
These two students were lucky. HPU faculty and administrators
recommend that all students get regular medical examinations.
Also use condoms to reduce the risk of getting infected, or