Free HIV testing offered to students

UVM’s Center for Health and Wellbeing on Redstone Campus is offering free HIV tests for students.   The Center works with Vermont Cares, a committee for AIDS resources, education and services, to provide free testing on campus for UVM students.   Health and Wellness Program Coordinator Laura Megivern explained that Vermont Cares provides all of the necessary testing equipment so there is no out-of-pocket price for UVM.”All we have to do is provide a space, schedule sessions and advertise around campus,” Megivern said. This year’s first session on Sept. 22 had a significant turnout, Megivern said. “All 10 spots were filled, and we had to turn three students away.”   When the Center runs out of testing slots students are referred to the Vermont Cares clinic at 187 Saint Paul St., she said. Students can receive free testing there on Mondays from 4 to 7 p.m.  Free testing will be available on Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 8, Megivern said.  On these days students may come between 10 a.m. and noon, but are encouraged to come early because there is a limited amount of spots available.  “The slots can fill up quickly so the earlier you can get there the better,” Megivern said.At the testing center, students can expect a relaxed anonymous environment.  The Center has a lot of people going in and out for many reasons, so it is easy to keep a student’s decision to get tested private, she said.  Once the results are determined, students will meet with someone privately to discuss the results. Should a student’s results indicate he or she may need more help, they can be referred to someone on or off campus.Megivern said that the program is successful and beneficial to the UVM community.  “The piece that is key for me is that it is convenient [for students],” Megivern said.UVM sophomore Eligio Infante said that he thought it was a great resource to have on campus and that students will be glad to know it is available.”This is a tough topic — a lot of people feel differently about it,” Infante said. “[The testing] is a good option to have.”Freshman Max Landerman said that the  Center for Health and Wellbeing would be a comfortable and safe place to have the testing done and that it is also easily accessible for students. “I’ve seen the signs around campus — I definitely think it’s a good thing,” Landerman said.