The phrase “sexual responsibility” means a variety of things to different people. For some, it means abstinence; for others it means having a monogamous partner and consistent condom usage.Some people define sexual responsibility as getting tests for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) before having intercourse with a new partner.
With new advances in HIV drug treatment, people are living longer, healthier lives. Unfortunately, this has caused the threat of HIV to disappear from the minds of many college students.
The fact remains that HIV is still a leading cause of death for both men and women ages 25-44. This is why it is so important for students to recognize the value of HIV testing. If you are scared to be tested or do not know what to expect when getting tested, then read on.
Facts on HIV testing:
1. HIV testing is done confidentially.
2. It is free of charge at the Student Health Center (located on the 2nd floor of Wayne Hall).
3. Many clinics, including Planned Parenthood of Chester County, offer a new testing procedure, which takes a sampling from the mouth (in a pouch between the gum and the cheek). This procedure is less invasive than blood testing and is also highly accurate.
4. By getting tested now, you will be able to either get treatment early, or be able to practice risk-reducing behaviors.
5. HIV testing offers peace of mind for many people.
You should consider being tested for HIV if you have ever participated in one or more of the following high-risk behaviors: 1. Participated in unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
2. Use Intravenous drugs (if you have shared needles).
3. Have had sex with multiple partners.
4. Received a blood transfusion before 1985.
What to expect when you get tested:
1. You will read and sign some paperwork explaining the HIV testing procedure.
2. A certified HIV counselor will discuss the paperwork with you to make sure that you understand the information.
3. You will be asked questions about why you chose to get tested and discuss any high-risk behaviors that you may have engaged in prior to being tested.
4. If you receive the oral HIV test (Orasure), then a swab will be placed in a pouch between your cheek and gum for three to five minutes. If you receive the blood test, then a small amount of blood will be taken from a vein in your arm.
5. You will receive test results in approximately two to three weeks.
6. At that time, you will go to the clinic where you were tested (test results MUST be received in person) and a counselor will speak to you.
7. If you test negative, then you will discuss how to reduce your risk of contracting HIV in the future.
8. If you test positive, then you and the counselor will discuss your next step. You may discuss treatment options at this time and ways to stay healthy longer. Living with HIV means practicing everyday healthy behaviors including good nutrition, exercise, and rest, along with combination drug therapy.
Other things to consider about HIV tests:
1. There is a period of time where HIV antibodies may not be present in the blood (this can take anywhere from two weeks to six months after exposure to the virus). Therefore, you may test negative for HIV but still have the virus.
2. Testing negative for HIV means that you are negative at the time. If you continue to engage in high-risk behaviors, then you may eventually contract HIV.
Remember that HIV testing is confidential and non-judgmental. Testing for HIV/AIDS/STIs demonstrates a mutual respect for both you and your partner’s health and wellness.
To schedule an appointment at the Student Health Center call x2509. To make an appointment at Planned Parenthood on S. Wayne St. (walking distance) call 610-692-1770.