EDITORIAL| Local HIV scare hits too close to home

By Amanda Finnegan
February 15, 2007

Middle-America Pennsylvania isn’t immune to controversy.

Just down the road, in the heart of suburbia, Cheyney University, in Cheyney, Pa., is dealing with a bombshell of its own. On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, university police arrested 36-year-old Sakinah Floyd, who is facing charges of prostitution, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, according to ABC 6 News.

Floyd admitted to having unprotected sex with at least 10 male students and acknowledged that she is HIV positive, driving the entire Cheyney campus into a nervous frenzy.

Our immediate thought is to think back to who we know at Cheyney, then West Chester University, a neighboring campus, and soon our own campus. We start to retrace our steps, steps of our friends, steps of our partners. Things begin to get a little real and we speculate about people we know and ourselves.

But why does it take something like the events at Cheyney to make us stop and look at our own sexual health? As young adults with our whole lives ahead of us (or so we think), we are prone to think that something like HIV couldn’t happen to us.

The events at Cheyney have shown us that it most certainly can.

Only a few weeks ago, Cabrini offered free HIV testing on campus for the first time. Out of 2,300 students, plus faculty, a mere 18 took advantage of the free testing. As the editors of the Loquitur sat around for our weekly meeting and discussed the topic, we discovered that only 2 out of 13 of us chose to get tested, a surprising statistic in itself since the Loquitur advertised the opportunity.

As a Catholic college, we understand that Cabrini is expected to uphold certain values and beliefs. Because of these circumstances, the college is limited in what it can provide with regards to sexual health, but health services is more than a place to go to when you have a cold. While they may not be able to dispense birth control, they are however, there to educate students and help them find the resources that they need in order to practice safe sexual health.

After all, it isn’t Cabrini’s responsibility to ensure that we are practicing healthy lifestyle choices; instead, it is important for students to claim responsibilities for their lives and their actions.

Since we were giggling middle school students in sex-ed, we have been told that if we are mature enough to have sex, then we should be mature enough to deal with the repercussions. And believe it or not, that is still true today.

Still, many of us as college students seem to ignore every warning that we have ever heard in the past; the consequences of our actions are often the last of our concerns.

We tend to make the assumption that if we aren’t pregnant or getting someone pregnant, we’re practicing healthy sexual behaviors. There is so much more to it though. Women are at least forced to think about it once a year as their annual rolls around, but men will rarely show their face at the doctor, unless they’re on their death bed.

According to the American Social Health Association, one in every four Americans will contract a sexually transmitted disease in their lifetime. Yet 84 percent of Americans feel that they are practicing safe sex. Something doesn’t match up. We cannot set our own standards for sexual health.

If you are sexually active, it is simply not enough to assume that you are being safe. You owe it to yourself and your subsequent partners to practice safe sex. Unfortunately, many of us seem to forget that safe sex doesn’t just mean using a condom or being on the pill; it also includes getting tested on a regular basis.

Most of us are guilty of these behaviors but it is important for us to take the events at Cheyney and learn from them. Sex takes two. If you are not practicing safe sex for yourself, then at least do it for your partner.

Amanda Finnegan

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