By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to safe sex among college students, condoms aren’t as popular as they used to be. Meanwhile, sexually transmitted infections (STI) are on the rise.

The University of Minnesota released a new survey that shows about 52 percent of students used a condom the last time they had sex. That’s down from 60 percent five years ago.

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“It’s never dropped before,” Boynton Health Services director of public health David Golden said.

Golden says while researchers are still trying to pinpoint the exact cause for the drop in condom use, theories include lower fears of contracting HIV, and easy access to other forms of birth control like pills or the IUD.

“Some of our students report ‘I’m mostly just worried about birth control, are STD’s that big of a deal?,'” Golden said.

The answer is in the numbers. Nine percent of students reported a history of STIs. That’s up from 6 percent in 2013.

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“You’re really running a risk because you don’t know who the other person has been with,” U of M freshman Henri Swanson said.

The University of Minnesota offers free condoms to students at Boynton, some dorms, and through the sexual health student group, Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education (SHADE).

Health officials hope sexually active students can feel comfortable asking a partner to make sure they have the right kind of protection.

“Just seems like kind of a common sense thing to protect yourself and protect whoever you’re with,” freshman Mitchell Walstad said.

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The study surveyed around 2,000 college students. It ruled out anyone who was in a committed long term relationship or married.

Kate Raddatz