By Ravyn Adams
At the end of 2016, approximately 36.7 million people worldwide were living with human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, according to hiv.gov. About 1.8 million people became infected worldwide that year with 5,000 new infections per day.
Brookhaven College nurse Mildred Kelley said the Health Center offers free HIV testing the first Tuesday of every month during the spring and fall semesters. The test is administered in Room S072 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Although Brookhaven has offered HIV testing in the Health Center for more than eight years, Kelley said she typically expects between 10-15 students each time the test is offered. The price of testing varies by location or method of testing. Testing in the Health Center is free and results are provided in under a minute.
According to hiv.gov, HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that interferes with the body’s ability to fight infections. HIV attacks the body’s immune system by entering and killing the white blood cells that fight infections, known as CD4 cells, according to the New York Department of Health.
The virus makes copies of itself inside T-helper cells, arguably the most important cells in adaptive immunity, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The new HIV hunts for more CD4 cells and continues the cycle. People aged 13-24 represented 22 percent of newly diagnosed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mabelyn Sosa, a student, said she was not aware testing was available on campus. She said she feels society views women in situations regarding sexuality, which acted as a factor in why she had not been tested previously. Sosa said she believes it is likely women waiting to be tested in a doctor’s office are likely presumed to be more promiscuous by others.
Jabria Nix, a student, said she knew Brookhaven offers free testing, but has never been tested. “Even though I know I shouldn’t, I’m definitely guilty of thinking it could never be me,” she said.
HIV tests are conducted in a private room with the person administering the tests. Patients are asked about their sexual history and use of contraceptives. The patient’s finger is pricked with a small needle and the blood obtained is dropped onto a small, handheld machine that reads their results.
Results are back in less than a minute. After receiving the results, the patient is given many free contraceptives and the opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
Other places to get tested in the area include Any Lab Test Now, SafeLabCentre and Walgreens.