Trojans drop in sexual health rankings
Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:08 am in News
TrojanÂź brand condoms released its annual study this month, ranking USC 51st in its 2010 Trojan Sexual Health Report Card, dropping from 37th place in last yearâs report. The report ranks the availability of sexual health resources at universities across the country.
Bert Sperling, president of Sperlingâs Best Places, the public relations firm that works with Trojan to produce the report each year, said the rankings were indicative of year-to-year changes and not necessarily trends in sexual health.
âEveryone is making progress overall, but they can change position because another competitor is either doing better at the moment or lagging behind,â Sperling said. âSome schools might make some improvements in their websites or change certain policies, such as increasing their hours to their student health center. When that happens, other schools will get bumped down the list.â
The study evaluated 141 schools in 12 categories, including the availability of contraception and STD testing, health center hours of operation and the existence of resources such as student peer groups and lecture or outreach programs.
USC has numerous services for studentsâ sexual health, said Paula Swinford, director of Health Promotion and Prevention Services at USC.
HPPS, located in the University Park Health Center, has a resource center, where students can get free condoms and rapid anonymous HIV-antibody testing. Students can also talk to peer health educators, fellow students who undergo training to administer STD tests and answer questions regarding sexual health.
âItâs good that this report continues the conversation about safe sex among students,â Swinford said. âSexual health is an important aspect of any young personâs overall well-being, and the USC community works extremely hard to provide various options for its students.â
Swinford also noted that one reason why USC might have dropped this year is because the university also focuses strongly on other aspects of student health, such as preventing alcohol or substance abuse, promoting an active lifestyle and reducing stress.
These factors, all of which were not included in the data analyzed by the report card, make up many areas of the âI am a Healthy Trojanâ campaign, aimed to increase the well-being of students on campus.
Swinford said, however, that she would still like to see the health center make new options available for students in the future, such as Ask Alice, an online forum where students can ask questions anonymously. This program was started at Columbia University and is a major contributing factor to its No. 1 ranking.
Javid Pour-Ghasemi, a peer health educator at USC, agreed that this idea could help raise awareness on campus.
âIâve noticed a lot of people are shy to come in here and ask questions. Something like Ask Alice could increase our exposure and make people feel more comfortable asking questions that they wouldnât otherwise ask,â said Pour-Ghasemi, a senior majoring in economics and biological sciences.
Many students on campus said they still remain unaware of some of the available resources, but they also say that safe sex is a priority for them.
âThe university could definitely stress sexual health a lot more. They seem to focus on alcohol and drug safety, but not how to be sexually safe,â said Andrea Farfan, a freshman majoring in psychology. âStill, from what I have heard, safe sex is not that much of an issue at USC. People here seem to be pretty smart about that kind of stuff.â
Columbia University, Michigan State University and Ohio State University earned the top three spots in the rankings, with DePaul University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Idaho ranking as the bottom three schools for sexual health resources.