By Evelin Ortega
Pulse Staff Reporter
Sexually transmitted infection rates are on the rise in Bexar County, as reported in a recent San Antonio Express-News story. Brittney Martin reported that chlamydia and gonorrhea infections reached an all-time high in 2015.
A local, federally funded program at Palo Alto called BAE-B-SAFE is working to change that.
“We want to bring awareness and education to young students as well as students alike and the community with regards to their sexual health,” said Delilah Marquez, coordinator of BAE-B-SAFE at Palo Alto College. “Our services are free. We’re here on campus for students.”
These services include literature on sex education, contraceptives and studies students can participate in.
Anyone who would like to ask a few questions or talk to someone is welcome to visit any of BAE-B-SAFE’s offices in the Student Centers at Palo Alto, San Antonio College and St. Philip’s campuses.
BAE-B-SAFE also offers clinical resources, according to Gabriella Martinez, a health educator at BAE-B-SAFE.
“We have a list of clinics in the area that offer certain grants, and so sometimes because of those grants they offer free services,” Martinez said.
Other than free services, BAE-B-SAFE is also offering two programs: Seventeen Days and SHARP. Both of these programs are geared toward students who identify as male and female and consist of simple surveying and sex education.
The programs last from one hour for female-identifying students and four hours for male-identifying students. Participants will be offered incentives for their time.
“All information that comes into the office is confidential, so we do respect the privacy of individuals,” Marquez said.
Martinez said, “It’s very conversational. It’s not like a classroom environment where you’re being talked at. It’s a group conversation that we have, and the reason why we’re doing this is because there are so many high rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections within this population which is why this grant exists.”
Carlos Cruz, the director of Student Life at Palo Alto College, said, “With Mrs. Marquez’s diligent work and collaboration with faculty, we have been able to reach over 300 students and make them aware of sexual health and reproduction. This is just another component for our SHARE Center and an additional resource to our students.”
Bridget Garcia, a Business Management major at PAC, said, “I feel frightened but also more aware,” on hearing the news of sexually transmitted infection rates going up in Bexar County.
For more information, contact BAE-B-SAFE at (210) 486-3128 or stop by any of their offices located in the Student Centers at PAC, SAC and SPC.