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Sexual health resources on College Hill take new shape during pandemic

From STI testing to contraceptive distribution, here are the University’s resources for practicing safer sex during COVID-19

Sexual health care on campus has had to adapt to the new reality of the pandemic following Health Services’ shift to using both telehealth and in-person services, The Herald previously reported

Sexually transmitted infection treatment will be addressed both remotely and in-person, wrote Associate Clinical Director and Family Nurse Practitioner Tanya Sullivan in an email to The Herald. Sullivan explained that students can first schedule a Zoom appointment with a provider before coming to Health Services to get testing done at a later time.

While some STI testing requires blood samples, “self-collection for many STIs is possible with proper instruction,” Sullivan wrote. Students and providers can work together to determine the best testing strategy, Sullivan added.

Any student with STI symptoms will be offered in-person physical exams to best determine the necessary testing and treatment, Sullivan added.

Distribution of free contraceptives and other safer sex supplies also follows a different process this semester, BWell Assistant Director Naomi Ninneman wrote in an email to The Herald. According to BWell’s guidelines for sexual health during COVID-19, students can order free supplies online via BWell by Mail or ask their providers for a free safer sex supply kit while being seen at Health Services.

Free safer sex supplies will not be provided by Residential Peer Leaders or the student-staffed Ship n SHAG this semester, in order to “avoid exposing any students or staff to increased COVID-19 risk,” Ninneman wrote.

Ninneman added that the Sexual Health Awareness Group will continue to facilitate sexual health among students through various virtual workshops, ranging from peer-led discussions on sexual topics to educational workshops that aim to “demystify and destigmatize” STIs. These workshops can be programmed by request, according to Ninneman.

For closer attention on individual questions regarding sexual health and personal concerns, students can contact SHAG’s Q&A texting service or schedule individual virtual appointments with BWell professional staff, Ninneman wrote.

Aside from University resources, students can still promote sexual health through “open and honest” peer conversations, according to SHAG Student Coordinator Hannah Ngo ’21. “Sexual health requires consent and communication,” which are skills that can be honed by “practicing having those important conversations,” she wrote in an email to The Herald.

Students should also keep various risk-reduction strategies for COVID-19 in mind if they choose to have in-person sexual activity, according to BWell’s website. Examples of potential strategies include limiting the number of sexual partners one has, thorough hand-washing, cleaning of shared sex toys and getting tested before meeting up with potential partners.



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