October 14, 2010

by Naomi Allison, Sherelle Black

Despite advances in sexually transmitted disease prevention, STDs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV and AIDs continue to run rampant in Lincoln Parish.

With so many contraceptives floating around, this begs the question: why are we so unprotected when it comes to sex?

According to the Center for Disease Control, the largest number of reported cases of both Chlamydia and gonorrhea in 2008 was among young girls 15 -19 years of age, followed closely by women 20 – 24 years of age.

Studies also show that women are most severely affected by the long-term health consequences of untreated Chlamydia, including infertility.

However, Lincoln Parish has been persistent in the fight against STDs.

In its strategic plan for 2010 – 2012, the Lincoln Health Foundation promised to reduce the occurrence of STDs by working toward delaying teenage sexual activity and collaborating with other organizations.

Norman Hanes, administrator of the Lincoln Health Foundation, said the high STD levels were brought to his attention when research consultants from Omaha, Neb. performed a health assessment on the parish in 2008.

According to the assessment, there were more than 305 cases of gonorrhea and 663 cases of Chlamydia per the 100,000 population. Among those, 12.5 percent had three or more sexual partners in the previous year.

Hanes, who was surprised by the statistics, said the topic of STDs is rarely discussed due to a lack of concrete data.

“The problem with STDs is that it’s not talked about. Particularly, when there is an absence of data.  Since we have data that confirms the problem, we can helpfully deploy financial resources to address it.”

Other foundations have confronted the issues of STDs as well.

Trojan Brand and Rock the Vote teamed up together to release their fifth edition of their annual Sexual Health Report Card, which inspires students to practice safe sex, by ranking the health resources, information, contraceptives, lectures and sexual awareness programs available at 141 American colleges nationwide.

The report card assigns each college’s letter grade and calculates their cumulative GPA on a four-point scale to bring attention to a college’s need to work on its sexual health.  

Tech placed number 133 out of 141 colleges.  

Even though Tech is ranked towards the bottom there are few students that seek help for STDs.

Paige Pickett, a registered nurse and Student Health Center director, said for a 12-month period there were 10 documented times students came in seeking STD testing or treatment, which is very low.

With Grambling State University in close proximity, their students also add to Lincoln Parish’s higher statistics.

“Due to being a rural parish with two universities, it sometimes makes the parish statistics look high,” Pickett said.

Chlamydia is the most common STD students come to the health center inquiring about, Pickett said.

“I believe our students are educated regarding STDs. Some are just willing to take risks unfortunately.”

Every fall, Tech’s Peer Leadership Counsel puts on a presentation for the university seminar classes called Seven. It discusses the most common seven decisions students will make throughout their four years of college. One of these topics is named “How far will I go?” During this topic, they discuss the importance of being well informed about sex, and how detrimental STDs could be to their lives and others if they do not make healthy choices.  PLC also informs freshmen on specific types of STDs, their symptoms, how easily they are contracted and whether they are curable or not.   

There are 16 members of the peer counseling team. All have been trained to deal with numerous topics related to decisions students will make throughout their college experience.

Destanee Hughes, a member of PLC, said, it is important for students to be aware of STDs in order to take better care of not only themselves but others as well.

“Students need to realize that they no longer have their parents taking care of them and telling them what to do,” Hughes said. “It is their responsibility to be in control of their own bodies, and they need to keep it as healthy as they can, which means knowing how to protect themselves from contracting STDs, and I feel that all students have the ability to do so.”

PLC also informs freshmen on specific types of STDs, the symptoms, how easily each can be contracted and whether the infection is curable or not. They also offer a Request A Program, where any organization can ask PLC to address a particular topic from a list and present it, among the topics is STD awareness. PLC also has Leaders Influencing Future Thinking. If a student does not feel comfortable talking to a counselor about a particular problem, the student can come speak to a member of the PLC about it.

Hughes said having the ability to talk to others about STDs is key to prevention.

“STDs can seriously affect a person’s life, and I feel if more students are informed the more likely the chance that STDs have of not being spread,” she said.  “They need to be informed about STDs, so that they can understand the consequences of participating in unhealthy sexual interactions.”

Hanes said he was impressed with Tech’s effort to expand STD awareness.

“I’m glad to see Tech brining the matter to the forefront,” he said.  “If more people know about the problem, the easier it is for us to create the environment where we can get the resources to resolve it.”



1. Columbia University

2. Michigan State University

3. Ohio State University (Main Campus)

4. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

5. Brown University

6. University of Iowa

7. University of Oregon

8. Princeton University

9. Rutgers University (New Brunswick)

10. University of MInnesota (Twin Cities)



132. University of Notre Dame

133. Louisiana Tech University

134. University of Louisiana at Lafayette

135. University of Alabama at Birmingham

136. Auburn University Main Campus

137. Chicago State University

138. Marshall University

139. DePaul University

140. Brigham Young University

141. University of Idaho



20. University of Louisiana at Monroe

26. Louisiana State University

      A&M/Herbert Law

84. Tulane University of Louisiana

127. University of New Orleans

133. Louisiana Tech University

134. University of Louisiana at Lafayette


E-mail comments to nsa008@latech.edu and scb035@latech.edu.