Free HIV testing raises awareness

By Gyeryeong Kim

Senior Staff Writer

 

Brookhaven College’s Student Health Services offers free HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month, in room S072. Students do not need an appointment. Testing is given on a first come, first served basis.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). According to the “Could I Have HIV?” pamphlet in the health center, an HIV positive individual “could go years without getting AIDS,” but could spread HIV. AIDS attacks certain white blood cells that protect the body against illness, according to idph.state.il.us. Both men and women can become infected and transmit the disease to others.

There are several ways people can get HIV, according to www. idph.state.il.us, including having sex with an HIV-infected person or sharing needles with an HIV infected person to inject drugs. The virus can also be passed from an HIV-infected woman to her baby pregnancy or during birth.

Some people may put off getting the HIV test because they think they are not at risk or are afraid other people will know about their experiences and the results of the test if they are positive. According to pbs.org, Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick said others expressed worry that they wouldn’t be reimbursed by insurance or felt uncomfortable telling someone they had the disease.

“If they are sexually active and they have had unprotected sex, yes, they should be tested,” Brookhaven nurse Mildred Kelley said.

Some students are already educated about HIV and know the importance of testing. Ashley Persyn, a former nursing student at Brookhaven, said, “I think you shouldn’t worry about what other people think” because it will be helpful to get checked.

Ken Ballestar, a student studying to be an emergency medical technician, echoed the comments of others. “It should be completely confidential between you and the tester,” he said. “You should be able to trust that nobody would put you out there.”

The Brookhaven health center also coordinates with the Dallas County Health Department’s mobile testing services. The Dallas County mobile van provides free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Testing will be offered on Feb. 18 and April 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the S Building parking lot. Mobile testing services include treatment and medication, if results are positive, for any tests given. For further information, readers can contact the Brookhaven health center by phone at 972-860-4195, via email at [email protected] or in person by visiting Room S072 in the S Building.