w w w w w w w w w
In response to worries about sexually transmitted disease,
students are learning about things they should have known all along:
birth control, safe sex, and intimacy.
By Wendy Sharp
ALK OF COLLEGIATE SEX
brings to mind crowded bars full of
students in search of everything from true
romance to one-night stands. The setting
and methods aside, it is fair to say that
carnal pursuits occupy a hefty portion of
most students' thoughts.
But now, many say, a new element
has crept into their sexual thinking:
"People think, 'Oh, college, go out and get drunk and get
laid.' I don't think that happens too often," said Lisa, a
junior majoring in engineering. "People know what they're
The cliche of rampant, random sex among collegians is an
exaggeration, according to Patrick, an LSA senior -
especially of late. "I've never slept with anyone I didn't
know," he said. "I wouldn't now. Sexually transmitted
diseases would be on my mind."
A number of afflictions, the most serious of which is
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), worry
students. AIDS is a fatal viral infection for which there is no
Recent public alarm over sexually transmitted diseases has
encouraged many to educate themselves about disease
prevention and birth control. Of course, unwanted pregnancy
and sexually transmitted disease are not new problems, so the
added attention given to education about them is encouraging
to health experts.
"Attitudes are changing because of the unpleasant results
that can happen. The pendulum is starting to swing back (to
more careful sexual behavior)," according to Dr. Robert
Baker, head of gynecology at University Health Service.
Most of Baker's patients, when asked, say they have one
sexual partner: "My impression is that the number is over 90
percent." Baker believes that 50 percent are sexually active
before they come to the University, and another 20 percent
become active in college, especially during their first two
According to Baker, venereal warts are the most common
sexually transmitted disease on campus. Baker said he treats
ten times more venereal wart cases than the one or two
herpes cases he sees each month. Venereal warts are caused
by a sexually contagious virus and may grow into
Other sexually transmitted diseases include gonorrhea,
herpes, syphilis, and chlamydia (see chart at right).
John, a engineering senior, said he has changed his sexual
behaviors because of his fear of getting a disease. He is
careful about who he sleeps with and thinks other students
are also concerned. "Diseases must be forcing people into
more monogamous relationships," he said.
According to a article in the February issue of Atlantic
Monthly , there is an upsurge of sexual conservatism on
college campuses due to fear of AIDS. The magazine cited a
study 2,600 of students, 19 percent of whom said they
approved of one-night stands compared to 48 percent that
approved of them twenty years ago.
Nationally there have been over 30,000 diagnosed cases of
AIDS, 17,000 of which have been fatal, according to the
Michigan Department of Public Health. In the state of
Michigan, 280 cases have been diagnosed. Of those, 158
were fatal. Thirteen cases have been reported in Washtenaw
One University student has been diagnosed with AIDS,
according to Director of University Health Service Caesar
Briefer, who would not disclose more details about the
There are fifteen to twenty tests conducted here each week
to detect the antibody for AIDS, Briefer said. Faculty, staff,
students, and "people off the street" are tested, he said.
Media coverage of the disease's spread has lead alarmed
many - some unnecessarily so.
"There is a lot of fear out there," Briefer said. Although
health service sees more cases of genital herpes and syphillis,
"nobody ever died from them." People die from AIDS, Briefer
said, and that's why they're scared.
Briefer said some students are overreacting to the AIDS
scare when asking if they should be tested and retested for the
AIDS antibody. "The risk of contracting AIDS is probably
very small, but it's not nonexistent," he said.
Some students visit Briefer and describe their sexual habits
to see if they're susceptible to the fatal sickness. Students
want his reaction, and are probing to find out if they are "too
promiscuous." Briefer said one student told him about one
night stand he had in Chicago over the weekend and asked if
he should worry about AIDS.
The AIDS virus can be transmitted through semen, blood,
and vaginal secretions. Women can transfer the virus to men
through small microscopic cuts in the penis and vagina that
may occur during intercourse if the women is only slightly
lubricated. Both men and women are unable to detect such
AIDS pamphlets warn both homosexuals and
heterosexuals against tue disease. They promote "safe sex" -
using a condom during vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Another
recommendation is using a spermicide containing Nonoxynol
9, which has killed the AIDS virus in lab tests.
But condoms may just be "a glitzy solution to a
complicated problem," according to Briefer. "No
contraceptive device manufactured yet is 100 percent
effective," he explained. "If they aren't 100 percent effective
protection for pregnancy, they won't be100 percent effective
in preventing the spread of AIDS." The best way to prevent
contracting AIDS, Briefer said, is to avoid promiscuous
Despite the recent publicity, some students don't worry
Scott, a sophomore in LSA, said AIDS has not changed
his sexual behavior. "I'm not going to let the threat of AIDS
get in the way of seeking pleasure... People don't relate it
(AIDS) to themselves. They don't hear about how it effects
students at Michigan," he said.
June Osborn, dean of the School of Public Health, is a
nationally known AIDS expert. Osborn said many Americans
are naive about the seriousness of the AIDS virus.
"It may be a personal risk if you're sexually active beyond
a long standing monogamous relationship," Osborn said. She
said AIDS will spread to the point where "everybody will
know somebody with the disease," and recommends a
national educational campaign to inform people of the
seriousness of AIDS.,
In 1986, 1,100 new cases of heterosexually transmitted
AIDS cases were reported, according to a study done in the
University's Medical School. It is expected that the number
will increase to nearly 7,000 cases in 1991. ,
Statistically, 44 percent of AIDS cases affect the 30 to 39
age group, according to Jim Toy, coordinator of the Gay
Male Programs Office. The second largest group, 22 percent,
are ages 20 to 29 and under the age ofl9, only 2 percent of
AIDS cases have been reported.
Frightening statistics about AIDS have caused gay
students - estimated to be 3,500 in number, roughly 10
percent of student enrollment - to change their behavior.
People here are praticing safe sex and reducing their number
of sexual partners, Toy said.
"There's a lot more safer sex nowadays," said an unnamed
gay student who works in the Human Sexuality Office. "I
never thought we'd (gay men) be buying condoms - that's
for straight men, that's birth control."
He said his gay friends are now practicing oral sex and
mutual masturbation more than anal sex. Gays are also
becoming more monagamous. "At dinner parties there are a
lot of people in couples and we kid that we're the gays of the
eighties," he said.
One of the founders of the Lesbian/Gay Medical Students,
who asked to be unindentified, said that he is involved in a
monogamous relationship and his friends are more careful,
too. "People don't brag about sleeping with people
anymore," he said.
He does worry about "people when they come out of the
closet. When I first came out, I slept with a lot of people and
would call numbers on bathroom walls and respond to ads in
magazines. I would find people and go home with them. I did
this for six months."
"A lot of gay guys go through this phase looking for
intimacy," he said.
ANY STUDENTS SAY they're finding
that sought-after intimacy through steady,
Lisa, a junior, said she had "quite a
few one night stands" during her first two
years at Michigan. "It was a meat market.
It wasn't a good start for any relation-
ship." Lisa has a steady boyfriend now
and wants a serious intimate relationship.
Another junior, also named Lisa, said she is a virgin. "I
don't think premarital sex is wrong, I just haven't met the
right person yet."
Silvia Hacker is an associate professor of nursing and has
been called "the campus Dr. Ruth." She said she's noticed
that more students are wary of sleeping with multiple
partners. "People are more conservative about pre-marital
sex," Hacker said.
Tom Moerson, a senior counselor at University
Counseling Services, agrees.
"There's a lot of redefining of what it means to be close
and intimate. It's causing people to relax a bit and quit
defining sex as a barometer of self esteem," Moerson said.
"Many men are redefining the whole affective dimension
of relationships. They are looking at the warmth of having a
friend, the closeness, and the committment," he said. "What
they really want is someone who understands them."
Time Magazine a year ago said the "sexual revolution"
was over, replaced by a new sexual conservatism. Moerson is
not sure if the revolution is over, or even if there was one.
He does believe male students "are feeling a sense of relief
that they don't have to go out and engage in this type of
But some students, like Scott, say they still feel pressure
from friends to have sex.
"If guys don't go out and get a score, the pressure's
there..,everyone still wants it. The desires are the same. That
hasn't changed," Scott said.
Steve, a senior, said one night stands are very common.
"Two people meet at a party or bar and then they go off and
have sex," he said. "They should be careful, but they aren't.
There's a lot of ignorance out there."
Sexually active young adults, evidence suggests, are
ignorant. Many have intercourse without using any form of
contraception for months because society disapproves youths
are having sex and doesn't provide adequate sex education.
"(Other) countries have a more concerted effort towards
education. They're accepting of the fact that kids are sexual,"
Hacker said. "They're trying to wipe out teenage pregnancy,
and we're trying to wipe out teenage sexuality."
Ninety-six of every 1,000 teenagers in the U.S. become
pregnant, Hacker said. In France and England the rate is 42
perl,000 and in the Netherlands, only 14 per 1,000 teenagers
The pregnancy rate in 1983 of 18 to 19 year-olds was 169
per 1,000, according to a recent article in Family Planning
Baker said most of his patients who are sexually active
use contraception. The most common methods students use,
according to Baker, are the rhythm method (timing sexual
activity to the female's periods of fertility), withdrawal, and
condoms. But two of these, rhythm and withdrawal, are not
very effective in preventing pregnancy.
"Students play Catholic roulette" with the rhythm
method, Baker said. "They say my period is due next Sunday
so I must not be fertile now."
OR MORE PLANNED forms of birth con-
trol, more students opt for the Pill, accor-
ding to health service data. Three years ago,
2,530 students got the Pill from the Univer-
sity. The number last year jumped to 4,354.
The diaphragm is the second most
common form of "planned" birth control.
But diaphragms are losing favor: requests for
them have decreased by 400 in three years.
More prefer the Pill because it doesn't inhibit spontaneity.
Health service also provides Intrauterine Devices (IUDs).
They're not as popular as other methods because of possible
health complications. If used improperly, the IUD may cause
sterility. Only 94 IUDs were requested last year, compared to
203 three years ago.
To receive birth control devices from health service,
students are required attend a two-hour lecture and discussion
on contraception given by fellow students. Different birth
control methods are passed around and their side effects and
failure rates are discussed. Some clinicians may waive the
requirement if a student says he or she has used a particular
method in the past.
Birth control - and the risks associated with some
methods - concerns the better informed among the sexually
Rebecca, who is a sophomore, said that she saw a private
doctor to go on the Pill. Some of her friends went through
the health service lecture program to get it.
"Some people may be kind of embarrased at the program,
but it's a real good idea and very informative," she said.
Rebecca said she went on the Pill when she and her
boyfriend began having sex. "For safety reasons, it'sa lot
more effective than other methods," she said. Her friends
chose the Pill to be safe 'just in case. They're not sexually
promiscuous, they just want to be prepared."
A senior, who did not want to be identified, said he prefers
relationships when women are on the Pill. "It's consistently
safe, and very convenient," he said. "Foreplay is not
Andy, who is a first-year student, also said he believes
that the Pill is the safest form of birth control. "I think about
it (birth control), but not right before sex," he said. "I don't
plan ahead like that."
Scott said he uses a condom when he has sex, but some of
his friends "refuse to wear one because of the (decreased)
feeling. Some have never used a rubber before and never will.
They just don't care."
Growing emphasis on care and caution in sexual relations
has helped focus attention on what has been its most
important aspect all along: physical and emotional intimacy.
Sex, many say, is well worth the education and preparation.
"It's fun, it's entertaining," said Paul, a senior.
Catherine, also a senior, said she is not sexually active
now, but was during her relationship with her last boyfriend.
"It's something we both wanted to do. It was a mutual bond
that brought us closer together."
or a patie
. ORAL CONTRACEI
is 96 to 90 percent effective. A
effectiveness rate and convenie
possible nausea, fluid retention,c
weight gain, and depression.
intercourse and left in place six
a spermicide, the diaphragm is
Disadvantages may include an a
and some users say it preventss
as it used to be, the IUD is 97
during menstruation and must b
side effects include uterine infe
sterility if the IUD becomes imb
SPONGES - A relative
they are 80 to 90 percent effec
eight hours after intercourse an
before. Sponges do not interupt
CONDOMS - A veryj
condoms are 90 percent effectivi
percent effective with a spermi
or spermicide are possible.
removing his penis during interc
75 to 80 percent effective. This
both partners and difficult for t
RHYTHM - Requires d
ature and cervical mucus to dete
unfertile times; 70 to 85 percel
transmitted disease on campus
last year. Caused by a virus, w4
HERPES -276 cases
involves blisters or sores aroun
* GONORRHEA -243
occasionally symptomless, but s
greenish/grayish discharge, a b
urination, and a possible sore t
SYPHILIS-This is the
infectious of sexually transmitte
syphilis can cause brain damage
paralysis, and even death. Twelv
last year. Symptoms include sc
CHLAMYDIA -A bac
non-specific urethritis, an afflic
gonorrhea: discharge, frequent
abdomen. If untreated, chlamyd
in both men and women.
DROME (AIDS)- AIDS is c
the body's immune system. Thei
Symptoms include fever, rapid,
soreness in mouth, shortness of
unexplained bleeding or rashes
with blood, semen, vaginal secre
Source: The University Health S
-University Health Service Director Caesar Briefer
PAGE 6 WEEKEND/APRIL 3,=1987W E P3