A few students and myself are participating in a research project through my school. We chose the topic of sexually-transmitted infections here on the island where I go to school. We were able to go to the local hospital to collect this data. When we arrived at the hospital, we realized they had all their medical records in books up until the year 2013! This was interesting because being from the US, we are used to data already having been converted into electronic records. It made me more aware that the rest of the world doesn’t live like us. It also enforced the reason why we were doing this project – to make the community aware of these statistics.
We looked through hundreds of pages in these books for the data we needed. It was so amazing to see all of the different tests and diagnoses within the pages of these books. One thing that surprised me was the number of younger children under age 18 who have had some sort of sexually-transmitted infection. I’ve learned that sexual education is not necessarily “enforced” on the island, so it’s a lot harder for local students to become aware of the dangers that can occur through unprotected sex. We hope to gather as much information as we can on this topic before we leave the island. None of this information is accessible to the public because it is contained in the books that sit in the lab, and no one has gone through them yet to put into electronic form. Our focus is to inform and educate the population on these STIs, as well as showing a representation of how common they really are on the island.