Health Services offers students free HIV screening

Kaitlyn Skovran

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University Health Service  partners with  AIDS Volunteers of Lexington on the first Wednesday of every month to provide students, faculty and staff free screenings for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV.

AVOL adminsters the HIV screenings from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in room 226 at The 90.

The purpose of the event  is to “break down the barrier for people to get tested,” according to  Joanne Brown, an adjunct professor and doctor of nursing practice.“By offering testing here once a month we hope to increase the likelihood that people will get tested.”

About one in eight people do not know that they are infected with HIV. Students without transportation to AVOL to get screened can get tested on campus.

UHS also offers an oral HIV test at their clinic for $14.

According to the clinic,  one person per year in the past  four years has tested positive for HIV. The rate of infection for UK’s population is less than one-tenth of a percent.

The Sexperts, a peer health organization, provides honest, accurate sexual health information to students, according to the UHS website.

“The Sexperts work to promote sexual health on the UK campus,” said Trey Cardwell, a biology senior and UK Sexpert. “We believe that reducing the stigma around testing is the best way to get more people tested.”

Some of the stigmas AVOL is trying to eliminate are based on race, class, sexuality and gender.

Many people fear that a positive test result can ostracize them or cause discrimination. These stigmas prevent people from testing and becoming educated.

“Currently we are focusing our efforts on two upcoming events — Stigma Day on Nov. 30 and World AIDs Day on Dec. 1,” Cardwell said. He said students can learn moreabout  HIV and other sexually transmitted infections at these events.

AVOL provides staff, kits and other resources to bring testing onto campus, but one of the goals of UHS is to have the Sexperts administer it instead.

Cardwell is one of three Sexperts who recently returned from training in Louisville, which taught him how to administer the rapid test for HIV.

Brown said it is important for students to be proactive about their health and get tested.

“Attend a program that the Sexperts offer,” Brown said. “Come to the clinic to talk to a provider.”