By Maria DeLorenzo
Student Health Services is once again providing students with free and anonymous HIV testing every Monday at Student Health Services in Room A-116 from 1-4 p.m.
Students can take an oral test (no needles) and return in one week to get confidential results.
City College Student Health has partnered up once again with the Linda Vista Community Clinic (LVCC) in order to provide the free service. Several semesters back LVCC’s grant for the on-campus testing fell through and they had to procure another grant in order to return.
“There’s been a lot of interest, especially because of World AIDS Day recently,” said LVCC’s Program Coordinator, Branko Matich.
“Access is important. If it is on campus, it is convenient,” said Matich. “And the results are completely confidential.”
Student Health Services Director, Dotti Cordell said sometimes people have inhibitions about getting tested.
“It is still a very personal thing,” said Cordell. “People will come and talk to you if you have a table in the cafeteria about TB or heart disease, but people are still very shy about this because it is very private and it is a very frightening diagnosis.”
But Cordell said she has noticed that students tend to feel more comfortable with the staff at Student Health because they are experienced in dealing with student issues and they are perhaps less intimidating than a family doctor.
“The may feel an added degree of anonymity here,” said Cordell.
Both Cordell and Matich agree that HIV testing is also about educating students on the risks and facts about HIV.
“Our job is to provide education and counseling on how to prevent HIV because there are still a lot of myths out there,” said Matich.
“Education is always about empowering yourself,” said Cordell.
Cordell said it is often a struggle to find funding for free student services.
“We need to keep working with the government to fund education and fund testing,” said Cordell. “The money is never as much as we want.”
Even so, now Student Health can provide students with free weekly HIV tests and they can also refer students to free clinics nearby for other STD tests. Student Health is not making money, but simply trying to provide as many services as possible for as cheap as possible.
That’s where clinics like Linda Vista come in.
“Dotti Cordell called me and said she wanted to start testing again. The funding has been kind of tough, but we wanted to get back on track. It has been difficult to find funding to do testing in outreach,” said Matich.
Nonetheless, LVCC came through with the grant and Matich said it’s a good spot for testing outreach because of the amount of student interest.
“Some students have never been tested before and they just want to make sure they are okay,” said Matich. “They are just wondering ‘what if’.”