Stevenson University will host free HIV testing on campus available to all students on Nov. 30.
Testing will be held on the Owings Mills North campus from 11 a.m-2 p.m in the Manning Academic Center and on the Owings Mills campus in Rockland from 5- 7 p.m. The cost of each test is typically about $50, but students will not have to pay the fee.
In order to protect student privacy, a curtain will surround the testing booth. According to Brenda Boggs, Caves Wellness Center nurse practitioner, Stevenson’s peer educators will be on hand to encourage students to receive testing.
Stevenson University has been offering HIV testing for the past several years. The Wellness Center organizes and manages this event, and Boggs will be doing all the testing personally.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends at least yearly testing for those who are moderately sexually active and more regular testing for those who may be at risk for HIV or sexually transmitted diseases. In 2014, those between the ages of 13 and 24 “accounted for an estimated 22 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States,” according to the CDC. Testing can help to change these numbers.
According to Boggs, Stevenson University holds HIV testing to help bring attention to HIV Awareness Month, which starts Dec. 1. The Wellness Center is starting early bringing awareness to HIV because “once December hits, the students are not thinking about HIV – they are thinking about studying for their finals,” said Boggs.
HIV testing is a quick and easy process. Boggs will use the Clearview Complete HIV 1/2 Test. According to Boggs, this is a rapid test that returns results in 20 minutes. The test involves only a quick finger prick and “has the same efficacy as a blood test,” said Boggs. Prior to testing, Boggs will ask the students to fill out an “Informed Consent and Agreement to HIV Testing” form that states what both negative and positive results mean and what will happen if the test is positive.
After testing, students will be encouraged to practice safe sex and participate in healthy behavior. After 20 minutes, the student will be notified of the confidential results and receive counseling.
If the test returns a positive result, Boggs is required to report the results to the health department. Additional blood work will be done to confirm the results and to offer students resources, counseling, and contacts for further assistance.
Nov. 30 is not the only day for testing, but it is the only day Stevenson University is offering the test for free. The Wellness Center tests for all sexually transmitted diseases throughout the year. Those interested in being tested can schedule an appointment with the Wellness Center.