The Eastern Michigan University Wellness Center hosted an event at which students could have free rapid HIV testing in the Student Center on Wednesday.
According to the Wellness Center’s clinic director Eric Ward, rapid testing is normally a more expensive option and typically used for more at-risk populations.
The rapid tests administered at the Student Center on Wednesday used needles. Normally, rapid HIV testing at the Wellness Center, located in Snow, is a litmus test, which uses a swab to check for HIV antibodies rather than using needles. The more thorough test does use needles, but does not yield results until a week later.
“[You should get tested] whenever you’re putting yourself at risk,” Ward said.
Ward defined risk as unprotected sexual contact or using intravenous drugs or needles.
If a student’s HIV test came up positive, Ward and his team can provide resources and information to answers any questions they have, inform them about what laws they should then be made aware of, provide a secondary test if they wanted and finally inform Washtenaw County’s health office.
Other than HIV, the Wellness Center tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis on Wednesday. These additional STI tests were available due to a recent uptick in the number of syphilis cases at EMU and in the areas surrounding the university.
Stephanie Rosales, a public health social worker employed by Washtenaw County, said the county does testing at the Washtenaw county jail, high schools, the shelter in downtown Ann Arbor and at community centers, and the U of M has a treatment program. STI testing is available at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, located very close to EMU’s campus at Clark Road and McCauley Drive across from Oestrike Stadium.
“We help people give the education around to know what HIV is, [and] to know what their treatment options are and really it’s evaluating who did they know,” Rosales said of the adult health program at Washtenaw County’s department of public health.
She said they also assess patients emotionally and ensure that they have the support they need by connecting them to health care. The adult health program also helps those who have contracted diseases or infections by providing partner notification. Rosales said that partner notification is done anonymously and confidentially.
HIV is still the great incurable disease of the 21st century. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 50,000 people are infected each year and 1 in 6 are unaware of having HIV.
If you feel you are at risk for HIV, AIDS or any other STI, you can go to the Wellness Center at 330 Snow, Thursdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The testing is free and anonymous.
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