According to SADD.org, approximately 19 million new STD infections are diagnosed each year and almost half of them are between the ages of 15 and 24.
Along with STDs, unplanned pregnancy is another thing to worry about when becoming sexually active. According to a Virginia study, 24 percent of college women will become pregnant at some point during their college careers.
Staying safe is a very important thing to consider when becoming sexually active. The Student Health Center located on campus on Volunteer Boulevard offers many services specifically for women seeking any healthcare service through the Women's Health Clinic (WHC).
The services WHC offers include annual female examinations, pap smears, pregnancy tests, birth control, and STD screenings and treatments. Each test comes with a reasonable fee.
Rosa Thomas, the wellness coordinator of the Safety, Environment, and Education Center (S.E.E. Center), explained the different services the WHC offer to women.
"Women can get a screening done for any sexual transmitted disease at the clinic. They can also get pretty much any type of birth control in the Women's Health Center," Thomas said. "A gynecologist also comes to the clinic once a week for the women who may have any complications."
Learning what to do and where to go is only one responsibility when young adults become sexually active. The more important part, however, is learning how to prevent unplanned pregnancies or diseases.
Thomas advised men and women to make sure that having sex is the best thing for them and the relationship they may be in.
"I always tell young people to spend time with the other person to create a trusting commitment with one another," Thomas said. "You should always ask yourself if you're completely sure it's the right thing to do, and if you feel even a little uncomfortable with it, then don't do it."
Martin Leamon, junior in accounting, explains what men can do to stay safe for themselves as well.
"Girls aren't the only ones that can take precautions when it comes to sex," Leamon said. "Guys should always have a condom and should always use it. It just doesn't make sense not to when we are so young."
Most health clinics offer free condoms to any patient who asks for them. There are also many events throughout the semester that give out free condoms as awareness for AIDS prevention.
Birth control is also easily accessible. It may not be free in most cases unless the patient has insurance coverage and goes to a clinic that accepts their insurance. The WHC on campus offers oral contraceptives for $30 to $50 a month.
HIV/AIDS are the most dangerous sexually transmitted diseases. Dec. 1 is National AIDS Awareness Day, but on Nov. 30 the S.E.E. Center will be holding an educational booth on the Pedestrian Walkway. There will also be a free HIV/AIDS screening taking place on the second floor of Hodges Library from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Becoming aware of what could possibly happen when young adults become sexually active is critically important. Thomas expresses some of her concerns with young people.
"Many young students do not realize that it is possible to catch a sexually transmitted disease through oral sex," Thomas said. "Oral sex is still sex and you can get STDs in your mouth."
One of the most important things a young adult can do is stay educated about the consequences that could arise with becoming sexually active and taking action to avoid them.
As a wellness coordinator, Thomas tries to ensure that students realize the responsibility that comes with becoming sexually active.
"If students want to limit their chances of getting a disease, they should limit their partners, use a condom and birth control, and communicate well with their partner," Thomas said. "STDs don't discriminate from person to person and every student needs to know that there is always the possibility of getting one."