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USC and S-E-X: School gets love in national survey

The University of South Carolina is not No. 1 in the SEC. But, according to a national survey set to be released today, USC is tops when it comes to S-E-X.

Sexual health, that is.

USC moved into the top spot - from No. 8 last year - in a sexual-health report card that ranks 141 colleges and universities, compiled for condom maker Trojan. Clemson was No. 66 in the ranking, which compared schools with athletic teams in the nation's major conferences.

"I'm proud of USC for leading the way," said Ryan Wilson, sexual-health program coordinator at USC.

A variety of factors went into the ranking, including student opinions of a school's health center, that center's hours of operation, the availability and cost of contraceptives, doctor's appointments and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Major athletic conferences - the Southeastern, the PAC-10 and the Atlantic Coast Conference - were surveyed because they offered a range of schools by size and geography, said Bert Sperling, president of Sperling's Best Places, which conducted the study.

"What really impressed us about the University of South Carolina - and what helped the school's ranking - was the high levels of trust students put in the campus health center," Sperling said.

Deborah Beck, executive director of student health services at USC, said she and her colleagues get high marks from students on surveys they send out each year.

She said it is important that students have faith in the health services available to them at the university.

"They're away from home," Beck said. "They're not with their parents anymore. They need to know they're going to get confidential care. We're not going to judge them. We're going to treat them."

College campuses often are thought of as places of extensive sexual activity. But, Beck said, surveys of USC students show that to be more reputation than reality. A spring 2008 survey of USC students showed 73 percent reported one or no sexual encounters during the previous year, Beck said.

USC health officials said while they are proud the survey indicates they are doing a good job promoting sexual health, they are not in the business of promoting sex. "Just because you educate about sexual health doesn't mean you're promoting sex," Wilson said.

Sperling said the survey should not be viewed as an effort to promote sex on campus.

"This is not about promiscuity," he said. "This is about giving information to students so they can make their own decisions."

And, in that, the survey said USC is No. 1.

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