The Rainbow Center has partnered with Perception Programs, Inc. of Willimantic to provide free HIV/HepC testing over the course of several dates spanning across the academic year. While no appointments need to be made, so that students may maintain their privacy, there are only 12 spots available each day on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The Rainbow Center has offered free HIV testing since its old Director Seth Marnin spearheaded the initiative 12 years ago, according to Rainbow Center Secretary William Malavé. Since then, the program has been met with success, and has been able to assist dozens of students on campus. The number of people who can get tested at each test date has expanded, and more dates have been added during the semester to allow for both morning and early afternoon times, in addition to their usual evening times.
“The HIV and HCV tests are both done with a simple finger prick blood draw similar to but slightly more blood than for the typical diabetic insulin test,” Stephen Feathers, the Outreach Worker Lead at Perception Programs, said in an email. “The tests then run for around 20 minutes and the individual has their results.”
The test is administered by Perception Programs staff who have undergone one full day of training on how to run and interpret HIV/HCV tests, as well as a two-day training course on how to talk with individuals about the test, their results and where they go from there, Feathers said. If a patient gets a positive or reactive test result, the staff members work with them to ensure that they follow up with a blood test and get the care they need, both emotionally and physically.
“Our support depends on the needs of the individual and what help they themselves need to get connected to the doctor who will best help them get onto the appropriate treatment,” Feathers said.
In addition to assisting students who get a positive test result, the staff members are trained to advise students who get a negative or non-reactive test result on how to keep themselves healthy in their activities, Feathers said.
The HIV/HepC test dates for the academic year will be the following: For the fall semester, the third Monday evening of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. and the first Wednesday morning of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; for the spring semester, the fourth Monday evening of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and second Wednesday morning of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. If these times do not work for you, you can also be tested at Student Health and Wellness, although tests performed there will not be free and will be charged to your health insurance.
The Rainbow Center is located in room 403 of the Student Union and is easy to reach at email@example.com if you have any questions regarding the free HIV/HepC testing.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.