Free HIV testing dates provided for students

Lizi Arbogast
Contributing Writer

Free HIV testing for students will be provided at the Wellness Resource Center on March 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The free tests take 40 minutes, are completely confidential and are co-sponsored by the Fan Free Clinic and The Well.
The clinic is a non-profit organization and has a network of about 30 free clinics throughout Virginia, according to the clinic’s Web site.
The clinic offered to conduct routine testing at The Well, which began in October and is offered three times per semester.
The 40 minutes includes 20 minutes to run the test and 20 minutes for post-test counseling.
Susan Tellier, the senior prevention specialist and HIV testing coordinator for the clinic, conducts the testing.
The clinic and The Well can provide testing for about 200 hundred students on test days, but they have yet to reach that many students, said Linda Hancock, the director of The Well.
Hancock said she has been enthusiastic about the program and appreciative of the clinic but she worries that not enough students are getting tested because of the stigma associated with HIV.
“One of the reasons why I really wanted to do free HIV testing is to get rid of that sense of stigma and hiding,” Hancock said.
Hancock said the current recommendation for all adults is to get tested annually.
“The easier you make it for people to get their routine tests, the more likely they are to do it,” Hancock said.
She said she remains hopeful that monthly testing and advertisements in the Stall Seat Journal, a Well publication, will help bring more awareness to the issue.
Hancock said it is important to get tested, whether a person has many risks factors.
Although HIV is not thought of as a college disease, students should never assume that they are unaffected, Hancock said.
The Well’s awareness efforts include sponsoring the student organization Project REACH (Rams Educating About College Health), which organizes student volunteer visits to The Well to provide creative sex education, such as Condom Crafts, to students while they are waiting for their tests.
Hancock says the benefits of getting tested are numerous.
“Once you get that clean bill of health, it gives you the motivation to make sure that your behaviors protect you in the future,” Hancock said. “Good news is energizing and motivating.”

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