HIV testing

Students who are sexually active and concerned about having HIV/AIDS went to the UVM Center for Health and Wellbeing on Thursday afternoon to take advantage of their free HIV/AIDS testing. Testing is free and anonymous, done without needles or paperwork. When signed up to be tested, instead of giving a name, a time slot is assigned in correspondence with a number. There is no way to trace a person’s name, address, or social security number through their results. No needles are involved, because testing is done with a cotton swab of the mouth, which takes cells from the side of one’s cheek. That cotton swab is put through a series of tests and results are available in 20 minutes. Yesterday was the first free testing event of the year at the center for health and wellbeing at Christie/Wright/Patterson. Ten students showed up to get tested, according to Gabriela Helfgott, who works at the center for health and wellbeing. Helfgott said she hopes free testing will widen student openness about HIV/AIDS. “We want to start normalizing testing to break down social barriers and bring awareness to the topic of HIV/AIDS. “I don’t see students thinking about it in their reality and we want it to be something completely normal,” Helfgott said. For students who are comfortable getting tested on campus, the Center for Health and Wellbeing will be offering testing the first Thursday of every month. The testing facility is a movable clinic and will be set up on different parts of campus each month. Next month testing will be offered at University Heights, and in December it will be in the chapel conference room at Billings, all from 2 to 4 p.m. Another option for students who don’t want to be seen tested on campus is Vermont CARES (Center for AIDS Resources and Education Services), a testing and HIV/AIDS education center that provides free testing once a week from 4 to 7 p.m. at 361 Pearl Street. “I want any student who is concerned or sexually active to get tested. We can’t test every student when they might want, but I would recommend it. Come with your partner, get tested together. Show how much you love each other,” Helfgott said.