Just 15 minutes after getting their fingers pricked, students could get results of a free HIV test last Thursday in the Memorial Union Main Street.
“It is really important to know what your status is,” said Teresa Romey, Ryan White Part D Case Manager for the KU Medical Practice Association. “We do free testing programs and HIV education so that people can know what their status is so they won’t spread the virus. And if they are HIV positive, they can find what their status is and take care of themselves.”
Candice Brooks, junior elementary education major, came up with the idea for the free HIV testing event in her Global Leadership class.
Both Romey and Brooks said they think getting tested is important for college students, who are in the range of high-risk people.
But only 10 ESU students got tested, including Brooks. She wore an “I Got Tested” sticker at the info table to help students realize that getting tested is nothing to be ashamed of.
“At my info table, I encouraged students to get tested,” Brooks said. “I also got tested myself to ensure people that I felt comfortable doing the test.”
Brooks speculated that students did not want to do the test because they were concerned about their privacy, but she, along with a few of the representatives from the Student Wellness Center, worked to ensure that they could make testing as private as possible.
“At the table, I created a list of other places in Emporia that they could go get tested, letting them know they may not receive the test for free, but they could have a more private facility to fulfill their concern,” Brooks said.
Xiang Li, graduate English student, missed the opportunity to do the test on campus, but said more free tests should be done for students on campus because it is a very good way to know more about students’ health.
Having HIV means a person is infected with the virus. Once people have the virus, it can develop into AIDS, which means that the immune system weakens.
“AIDS can be very well controlled with the drugs we have right now, but if you don’t take your medications, or if you let it go for a very long period, you can be very ill and possibly die,” Romey said.
Students can also get tested at Flint Hills Community Health Center, located at 420 W 15th Ave.