UM drops in sexual health rankings

The University of Miami dropped three spots to No. 59 on the Trojan Condoms’ list of sexually healthy campuses.

Each year, independent research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces analyzes the resources and information available to students on 140 campuses nationwide. The data is collected through student health center representatives, and secondary research on those centers and the student body.

“It is all about sexual health and awareness,” said Bert Sperling, the study’s researcher. “It is not measuring how healthy students are because that information isn’t available and comparable. It is about the availability of sexual resources and information so students can make the right choices for themselves.”

UM remains behind other schools in Florida such as the University of Florida, which is ranked No. 8, and Florida Atlantic University, which is ranked No. 53.

The criteria evaluated in the study includes sexual health awareness programs, contraceptive availability and the opportunity for students to receive anonymous advice. It also took into account the student opinion of the health center and if it offered HIV and STI testing.

There are many student organizations that work to promote sexual health on campus. Organizations include Vox, which raises awareness about sexual health and reproduction rights, and A Week 4 Life, which educates students on issues relating to HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. A Week 4 Life hosts events such as Sex on the Beach, which is a discussion about reproductive health, and participates in AIDS Walk Miami.

In addition to student organizations, UM’s Student Health Center performs HIV and STI tests, but doesn’t have the option of oral tests. Some students, however, would prefer an oral test rather than getting their blood drawn. Free condoms are also available at the front desk.

“People dread the basket because it is right there in the front and it doesn’t have a lot of variability,” said senior Ryan Walker, who is a chair of A Week 4 Life. “Perhaps they could put it at the computer desk where you make appointments where people won’t see you take them.”

However, condoms are not currently available in the dorms.

“They should have a basket in the bathroom or something of that nature,” Walker said.

Another measure the university can take to improve its ranking is a mandatory online course for sexual health similar to its alcohol education course.

Colleges that made the top 10 ranking took advantage of social media and online websites to raise awareness.

The Student Health Center website has a component with different sexual health resources. The researchers looked at the website’s usability and functionality.

“We didn’t see anything about HIV testing on the website as far as what services were available, what the cost was, where it was done and when you would receive the results,” Sperling said.

Columbia, which was ranked No. 1, has a website called Go Ask Alice, where students can write in questions or comments anonymously.

“Other campuses have students write in anonymously and a professor answers it – not just for the student but for the other thousands of students in the school who might have the same question,” Sperling said.

While the university has expanded its resources through Facebook, the UM Sexual Health Community Advisory Board page on Facbeook only has 18 likes.

“It is not that engaged with the students,” Walker said. “They need to put the word out.”

Florida was the state that had the nation’s second highest reported AIDS diagnoses in 2009, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

“People don’t understand that Miami is one of the cities that has the highest HIV rate,” Walker said.

The study, which has been conducted for the sixth year, has motivated universities to take its “sexual health report card” and learn what it can improve on.

“It is making a big impact on students,” Sperling said. “We have seen students take the results of the study, go to the administration, and use it as a tool to say that they are not doing as well as they could and that things could change.”

November 13, 2011


Jackie Salo

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Dewan Huell will be wearing green and orange for at least another year. Huell announced Saturday on ...

Their bats and gloves and baseball skills weren't enough Thursday night. Now, the Miami Hurrica ...

Florida State's recruiting trail hit Georgia last week, and while the #Tribe19 class is a focal ...

It's almost summer, time for college football players to wind down and chill out — every now an ...

Alumna and faculty member shares lessons and learning about racial identity in free parent community ...

Voters head to the polls in a historic election to choose the country’s next president. ...

From boathouse to marine research powerhouse, the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Scienc ...

A snapshot guide to the start of summer in and around UM. ...

Former investment banker Charmel Maynard leads UM’s investments and treasury functions. ...

Stormy weather in the Gulf of Mexico may have delayed Friday's competition, but wind and rain c ...

Last season, Miami Hurricanes fans created, quite simply, one of the best home-field advantages in c ...

University of Miami senior Christian Langmo and freshman Adria Soriano were edged by Florida's ...

After rallying to force a split, Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miamis women's tennis team was u ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team will wrap up the memorable 2018 season as No. 42 in t ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.