Contraceptive use among UW-Madison students is increasing, reflecting a national trend of student worry about sexually transmitted diseases.
Citing increased awareness of HIV, AIDS, and other STDs, experts say more college students are thinking twice before engaging in unprotected sexual activity with potentially infected partners.
Diane Lauver of the UW nursing department said while students have used contraceptives for years, the motivation has changed.
“Many more partners are using condoms to prevent infection rather than to prevent conception,” Lauver said.
Lauver said use among younger students needs to increase.
“Use goes up with age,” she said.
The slow increase in national contraceptive use, which expands about 1 percent or 2 percent annually, has not been substantially increased by years of extensive government awareness education campaigns.
Unfortunately, some experts have said, most campaigns have resulted in less than spectacular results.
UW sociology professor John DeLamater said he thinks education may not be the problem.
” Many people know of the potential dangers but don’t think they’re at risk,” Delamater said. “They think, ‘Someone like me won’t get an STD.'”
Experts have also said the spontaneity of sexual situations may leave partners unprepared.
“I would use one if it’s there,” UW freshman Ray Culbertson said. “But how often do you find yourself in the perfect circumstance?”
Lauver said couples often forget safety in the heat of passion.
“Either men or women can get swept away in the moment,” she said. “Although in general, men tend to have less concern for the consequences.”
For problems like this, Lauver said, personal consultation is most effective.
“Anticipating the situation, then role-playing with a practitioner or nurse, is one of the best ways to increase usage,” she said.
Most UW students say the responsibility to provide protection lies with both partners.
“It’s stupid when the girl always wants the guy to buy the condom,” UW freshman Pete Kaweki said. “It should be both people’s responsibility.”
Without contraceptives, the risk of contracting STDs can be high, experts have warned, especially for college students. Most STD-infected individuals are between ages 18-25. Many do not know they are infected, Delamater said.
STD prevalence varies with geographic location. In inner cities, syphilis is a larger concern than in smaller urban areas like Madison, where human papilloma and herpes simplex are the biggest problems.
Students who do choose to use contraceptives have a variety of options.
Free condoms are available in the University Health Services center lobby, 1552 University Ave., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on other weekdays. Free condoms are also available in the UHS satellite location at Sellery residence hall weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Birth control pills are also available for purchase in the women’s clinic of the UHS building.