Are Universities doing enough to combat STIs?

Zava an online doctor service has produced a brand new study that analyses 50 of the UK’s biggest universities along with a survey of 1,001 students, to understand which universities are offering the best and worst sexual health services. 

The results are quite surprising, especially given some people are moving away to university for the first time this September. The full university league table is available here.

The study identified that 87% of students feel their university could do more to promote good sexual health. According to new data, an average student in the UK has unprotected sex 12 times during their time at university, with students studying in Bristol almost doubling (22) the national average. This perhaps explains why Public Health England’s recent report highlighted that over 1.3 million chlamydia tests were taken by 15-to-24-year-olds in 2018, with over 131,000 testing positive, equalling to 359 diagnoses per day.

The analysis found the top two performing universities to be the University of Liverpool and Swansea University, with Liverpool coming out as the best for sexual health services.

Photo courtesy of Zava
Photo courtesy of Zava


What services universities are or should be but are not offering?

It discovered that of the 50 universities analyzed, 21 lacked any detailed STI information or specific sexual health support pages for students. Both the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds websites lacked any detailed information on sexual health. 

33 of the UK’s largest universities don’t have a sexual health clinic that is open on weekends and just 12 have one that is open in the evenings. Meaning, students that have little free time between their lectures Monday to Friday can struggle to find an opportunity to seek help. Many students are put off getting checked, here is a table below that shows the reasons along with the percentage.

Reason for putting off getting checked% of students
Embarrassment in front of doctor or nurse47%
Concern about being seen by peers32%
Fear of receiving test results25%
Nothing would put me off going for an STI check21%
Fear of pain from tests21%
Lack of knowledge when it comes to getting tested21%

Dr Kathryn Basford, GP at Zava commented that:
“While universities should look to educate and provide access to sexual health services for their students, students also need to take some precautions of their own. As our data shows, the average university student will have unprotected sex 12 times during their studies. This puts them at risk of catching an STI as well as spreading an STI they’ve already got.

This research is alarming as it means students are not getting the right information and help that they need. Especially, when there are students that have just finished secondary school and would find it too embarrassing to be able to talk to their parents. More needs to be accomplished in regards to sti checks and sexual health and should be promoted more for a better understanding and awareness. To find out more head to Zava here.

By Abi Trunk

Feature image courtesy of Shutter Stock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: