Handing out at-home STI tests on college campuses should be part of healthy conversations about safer sex.
When I was in college, I got paid to hand out condoms to strangers and talk about sex. Part of my job as a peer health educator on a college campus was to have honest and open conversations about sex education with my fellow students. My team and I would set up a table outside on campus and entice passersby with our bright colors, games, and free coffee to talk about safer sex. Even when we were not talking about safer sex, we always set out condoms and lube in a basket at our table.
There were four types of students who approached our table: The first type was the ‘confident-then-suddenly-shy’ type. This type of student approached our table with outgoing curiosity, expecting to grab the usual swag you would find on campus: a keychain or a sticker. When they saw the basket of condoms and lube, they would ask, “What is that?” And when we responded that those were condoms and lube and they could take as much as they wanted, their eyes widened and they quickly skittered away.
The second type of student was the ‘fly-by’ type, who casually approached our table, grabbed a cup of coffee, took a few condoms, and went on their way. The third type of student was the ‘I’m-still-in-middle-school’ type who, when they realized that we handed out condoms, freaked out with excitement to their friends, took 10 or more, and ran off laughing.
Finally, there were the students who knew sex was a normal part of life, who thanked us for providing free safer sex resources.
Every type of student I interacted with – even the ones who ran away – made me realize the importance of the work I was doing: teaching them about safer sex (possibly for the first time).
Grateful for today’s at-home STI tests
I was a peer health educator before the times of COVID-19, long before the capability of at-home testing was on the radar of the collective consciousness. Now that at-home STI testing is a reality, I think how amazing it would have been to hand out free at-home STI tests to students. I wonder how the four types of students I regularly interacted with would feel about being able to get condoms, lube, and an STI test? Would the ‘confident-then-suddenly-shy’ stay and talk to me longer? How about the ‘I’m-still-in-middle-school’ type? Would handing them an at-home STI test make them pause and think about the seriousness of sex, not just its humorous side?
Now, working at Primary.Health, I have the opportunity to see my dreams come true. If you work in a collegiate health center and would like to distribute at-home STI tests to your student population, please contact us today. And if you decide to hand out condoms, lube, and at-home STI tests to college students, I want to hear about that, too.