Health Services

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Information and education regarding sexually transmitted infections (STI) is available at College Health Services and in brochures that have been placed across the campus. Testing and referrals are also available at the office, and all treatment performed by the Health Service staff is confidential.

Rensselaer County Health Department provides an STI clinic. A sexual health clinic is also offered at the college each week classes are in session. For more information, contact College Health Services at (518) 629-7468 or To assess your risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection go to the link VH STD Risk Assessment.


Sexually transmitted infections, as the name implies, are transmitted between sexual partners, not through the common use of doorknobs or toilet seats.

Thousands of college students contract an STI each year. While both men and women can be left sterile from an STI, it is more likely to happen to women. It is important to note that an STI can be transmitted between partners during any type of sexual activity involving body-to-body contact. For example, genital herpes can be contracted during oral sex if one partner has a cold sore. It is also important to note that the odds of contracting an STI can be greatly reduced by using barrier protection such as condoms.

A health care provider must make diagnosis. Most STIs can be successfully treated with antibiotics. A brief description of common STIs appears below:

Gonorrhea (also known as "Clap" or "Drips")
Caused by bacteria, gonorrhea effects men and women differently. Symptoms experienced by men include frequent and painful urination, a greenish-yellow discharge from the penis, and swelling and redness of the tip of the penis.

Some women may experience no symptoms. If symptoms are present though, they include painful urination, vaginal discharge and abdominal pain. Untreated gonorrhea in women, even if they have experienced no previous symptoms, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and sterility.

Lack of treatment in both men and women can lead to arthritis and heart disease.

Syphilis (also known as "Lues")
Syphilis, caused by bacteria, develops in stages. The first stage can be difficult to recognize; it consists of a painless sore on the area where the bacteria entered the body, generally on the sex organs or the mouth. Since the sores are painless and may occur inside the vagina or on the cervix, women may not notice them.

Therefore, it is essential that males communicate with their partners if they have been diagnosed with syphilis. Left untreated, sores eventually disappear, but the causative agent stays in the body and will resurface years later, causing heart disease and brain damage.

Chlamydia (also known as Non-Specific Urethritis)
Chlamydia is the STD most commonly found among college students. It often causes an itchy, irritating, watery discharge or other minor symptoms that disappear without treatment. Many times, more often in women than men, there are no symptoms. But untreated chlamydia frequently causes pelvic inflammatory disease and is the most common cause of sterility in young women.

Caused by a virus, herpes is a life-changing disease that cannot be cured. There are treatments that can keep the virus under control, but it remains dormant in the body and reappears from time to time, usually as a response to physical or emotional stress, causing symptoms.

Herpes usually begins with an itching or tingling. Blisters then develop. As the blisters break, the infected area becomes very painful. It is believed that a person with herpes can spread the disease to others even when sores are not present. It is important that people with herpes inform their sexual partners and take measures to prevent infecting someone else.

Condyloma (Genital Warts)
Genital warts are red, pink or brown tumor-like skin eruptions found on the shaft of the penis, in and around the vagina, and on the rectum. They are painless and are usually discovered by the infected individual or his/her sexual partner.

Genital warts are caused by a virus and can be transmitted to various parts of the body simply by improper hand washing. Some types of genital warts are believed to be associated with cervical cancer in women.

Genital warts can be successfully removed, but the virus will continue to live in the body and can be transmitted without the presence of warts.

For more information on STIs visit: