CLU should provide affordable STD testing on campus for students

Youssef Aldossary, Reporter

California Lutheran University’s Health Services stopped offering discounted testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), known as “Testy Tuesdays,” in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic began. 

In my opinion, affordable testing for all clinical conditions, including STDs, is very important. The high cost of healthcare is a large issue that needs to be addressed on a state or national level. However, the cost of STD testing is one that colleges should help their students afford.

According to the Center for Disease Control there are about 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections in the United States every year. 

An article by states that young adults and college students are more at risk for contracting STDs than older adults. For sexually active students to remain safe, screening for STDs should occur on a frequent basis.

Saul Miller, interim director of Health Services said in an email interview that in the past the negotiated contract with Quest Diagnostics was the reason the cost for this test was lower than one that might be charged elsewhere for the same test. 

According to Miller, the recommendations for STD testing vary based on the type of sexual activity, number of partners, social and medical history and overall risk of infection.

Currently it costs $58.50 to test a student for HIV, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia at Health Services. For a college student, having to pay $58.50 per STD test can prove to be a financial burden when testing is recommended regularly for those who are sexually active. College health services can play a major role in normalizing sexual health as part of a student’s overall well being by offering affordable testing.

“The cost itself has not really changed. What has changed is our ability to help students offset this cost,” Miller said.

One of the reasons for this increase in cost is the redirection of funds to other needs. One big need was COVID-19 testing.

“In the past we were able to dedicate funds that would go directly to helping students offset this cost, making it cheaper for students to do STD testing but with COVID we had to redirect the funds,” Miller said.

I strongly believe that testing on campus is an efficient and effective way to spend university funding. Testing on campus allows students to quickly know if they have an infection and prevents them from passing it on to other people. Therefore, university health centers should aim for affordable testing methods for college students so that a large number of students can afford a STD test. 

In my personal opinion, since the prices for STD testing have risen, the campus can expect a change in the amount of people who are coming to get tested. 

“With fewer students on campus between spring 2020 and spring 2021 due to the pandemic, we saw our overall number of non-COVID visits decrease across the board,” Miller said. 

However with the students back on campus this semester, I believe that rates of STD screening have become similar to what we saw in the fall of 2019, before COVID.

As a student of Cal Lutheran, I really hope that once the pandemic is over, ‘Testy Tuesdays’ will return to campus and we can reinstate affordable STD testing on campus.