Guard your goods, create a healthier 40 Acres

Connor Hughes

The Tejas Club’s commitment to promote the UHS “Guard Your Goods” campaign proves the power of student groups when advocating for a cause they believe in.

UHS has recently launched the Guard Your Goods campaign with the goal of increasing awareness and vaccination of Longhorn men against HPV. UHS and the Tejas Club have teamed up to educate and empower students to make the healthy decision for themselves.

According to the National College Health Assessment, 68 percent of UT students had at least one sexual partner in 2015. With sexual activity comes the threat of sexually transmitted infections. At the first mention of common STIs, many students think of HIV, herpes or gonorrhea. While these diseases are all serious, the most common STI is human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Although most HPV infections go away on their own, HPV can have serious long-term effects for both men and women. HPV causes over 9,000 men to develop cancer every year. Additionally, over 4,000 women die of cervical cancer, caused by HPV, every year.

Charlotte Katzin is the nurse manager of the UHS Allergy/Immunizations Clinic. Katzin says Longhorns should care because “half of the new [HPV] infections occur among persons 15-25. So we’re looking at the college-aged population.”

Along with using condoms consistently and correctly, getting the HPV vaccine Gardasil can help men prevent these health problems. The HPV vaccine is a three-shot series given over a six-month period, and it is offered Monday through Friday at UHS in the Student Services Building.

The Tejas Club was founded in 1925 on the principles of scholarship, leadership and friendship. Woven into the core of Tejas is the commitment to advocate for fellow students and the University. Tejas has led the charge to promote the UHS campaign, and its members are excited to encourage community health at UT.

Jackson Clifford, a junior within the Tejas Club, is passionate about educating students.

“Students aren’t always aware of the potential consequences of sexual activity, so the opportunity to protect yourself from a dangerous infection, such as HPV, can be one of the best decisions you ever make,” Clifford said.

Student health has always been a pillar of the Tejas Club. In 2010, Tejas lost a beloved member to suicide and ever since has made a commitment to battling stigma and fundraising for mental health.

In the past year alone, the Tejas Club has donated over $4,000 to the Counseling and Mental Health Center. Tejas has seen this Guard Your Goods campaign as an opportunity to continue contributing to community health.

The campaign has reached out to students through informative videos, social media posts and presentations at organizations. Tejas has had members tabling and encouraging friends to learn more. In addition, the Tejas Club hosted a documentary screening last week to promote dialogue and combat stigma surrounding HPV.

The main message of the UHS campaign has been focused on educating men that they too can suffer serious consequences from HPV. Many men are unaware that HPV can even infect them.

“As a men’s club, it’s really important that we have conversations about STIs, the stigma associated with them and means of prevention,” said Arjun Mocherla, a Tejas member and Plan II and public health senior. “By getting the HPV vaccine and inviting the community to join us, we make a larger statement on how to make a difference.”

While the Tejas Club has made a commitment to educating other students about the vaccine, it has also been supporting its members who’ve gotten vaccinated.

Mocherla says that “members have been supportive of each other getting the vaccine. Many members are getting the vaccines together and vocalizing the impact it’s having within the club.”

Tejas and UHS encourage the many UT students who have already been vaccinated to spread the word. You could have an active role in protecting your friends or your partner from a preventable disease.

Still need the HPV vaccine? Guard your goods! Get vaccinated at University Health Services in the SSB. Students are encouraged to check with their insurance company to ensure that the vaccine is covered. You can easily schedule an appointment by calling at 512-471-4955 and dialing menu option #6.

Don’t wait any longer. Guard your future by getting the HPV vaccine.

Hughes is a biochemistry and Plan II senior from Austin. Hughes is the president of the Tejas Club.