A recent study ranked Oregon State University the number one sexually healthy university in the U.S. The University of Oregon, however, was absent from the list.
Vice News online magazine, Motherboard, reported on the study conducted by an independent research group called The State of Education. The study used three indicators for their scoring: STD rate in the school’s county, annual sexual assault rate and sexual health and education resources.
“What they looked at was STD rate along with sexual assaults,” said Elisabeth Maxwell, UO health promotion specialist who received a doctorate in Public Health from OSU. “Those are not two things that are commonly evaluated together. That is not a measure that is anywhere academically acknowledged.”
Maxwell thinks a similar study by Trojan condoms, released last year, better indicates the status of sexual health in U.S. universities because it referenced more relevant data, she said.
The Trojan report also ranked OSU No. 1 for sexual health in the nation. Maxwell said the Trojan study looked at sexual assault services at schools – but not the actual rates, as did the State of Education report – making it a better indicator of sexual health, she said.
On this list, the University of Oregon landed the No. 6 spot.
“We’re climbing up,” Maxwell said of UO’s performance in the annual Trojan study. It ranked UO No. 48 in 2013, then No. 17 in 2014, and now No. 6.
“That’s actually since I’ve been here, so I’ll take credit for that,” she said with a laugh.
Maxwell received her masters degree and PhD at OSU, where she then taught public health until moving to UO a year and half ago. Although she didn’t work in OSU’s clinic, she thinks UO offers similar resources and reflects OSU’s STD rates.
In an effort to find solid numbers on the STD rates at UO, Maxwell partnered with Dr. Anna Hejinian, university physician, to launch the new STD and STI Screening Clinic at the UO health center.
The clinic opened two weeks ago. It fast-tracks the process for student STD testing, and offers an affordable price, according to Hejinian. She said four students had visited the clinic earlier in the day.
Open every morning except Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the clinic is staffed by specialty-trained nurses who were trained by Maxwell and Hajinian.
The clinic screens for STDs in students who are asymptomatic – meaning no symptoms appear. If any do, the health center will refer the student to a physician or a nurse practitioner, Hejinian said.
In 2015, student government offered a grant of $40,000 to UO Health Center for free HIV testing to students, but other tests range from $10.75 to $59.00. The health center also offers a wide variety of free contraceptives.
Last year, the UO health center conducted over 3,100 chlamydia and gonorrhea tests, Hejinian wrote in an email to the Emerald. The results of chlamydia- and gonorrhea-positive results at the UO showed numbers that “roughly correlated with national averages for people aged 19-24,” the email stated.
“Part of the reason we wanted to start the UO STI Screening Clinic was to help put a dent in these discouraging statistics,” she also wrote in the email.
Hejinian expects the STD data to show meaningful results within six months to a year, but in the meantime, urges students to get tested.