SCC Brings STD Testing to Campus
On March 25, the Southwest Care Center partnered with Student Government to provide free HIV and Hepatitis C testing in the Fogelson Library. The four-hour event allowed students to check their STD status and opened up a dialogue about safe sex and STD prevention.
SCC provides STD education and care for those living with HIV and Hepatitis C in New Mexico. The organization has visited SFUAD multiple times to conduct rapid testing and provide educational services. Students who attended the event received paperwork to fill out, which also allowed them to write down for their care professionals questions they had about STDs. Once students were called into the testing room, the testing required one small prick of a finger and, after approximately 20 minutes, students had their results.
For Photography freshman Tyler Abell, this was his first time getting tested. “I’ve never really had the chance to get tested. I’ve always wanted to get tested and now is a good time to,” Abell says. He had been nervous in advance of the testing, but later told Jackalope that it was a good experience. “It didn’t hurt…It was really comfortable and friendly. [The care professional] told me what was going to happen, how it worked and gave me really good information on how to get tested more often and whatnot. It was really cool.”
This was Photography senior Rebeca Gonzalez third time getting tested through the school’s partnership with SCC—she began using the service through SCC in her sophomore year. “It’s not as valued as it should be to know your status,” Gonzalez says of the importance of testing. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, that’s something that happens to other people.’…Even if you’re low risk, there’s always that ‘What if?’ It doesn’t scare you until you’re sitting in the chair waiting.”
Many students who were tested learned about two relatively new drugs that help with HIV prevention. PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). PrEP is a daily medication taken to lower the risk of contraction where PEP is a medication taken after exposure to the HIV. “One of our biggest initiatives is getting information out there about these medications,” Blake Meadows, SCC Manager of Prevention and Linkage to Care, says. While both medications have been available for many years, they have only started recently to gain popular attention. “It’s a great option for people who are at high risk for contracting HIV,” Meadows says.
Both PrEP and PEP are expensive medications, with PrEP running as high as $1,300 a month. However, the SCC is currently running a study on PrEP called “Discovery,” which provides free medication for subjects. Those interested must be at least 18 years old and considered at high risk for contracting HIV. More information is available through the SCC Research Department at 505-395-2003 or online at clinicaltrials.gov by searching the NCT number 02842084.
This will not be SFUAD’s last sexual health event this semester. Student Government representative Marisa Doherty tells Jackalope that a Safe Sex event will also take place at 1 p.m. April 23 with a location to be announced soon. “It’s important to give students agency over their own health,” Doherty says, which is why she organized the testing event and is looking forward to the event in April. For more information on sexual health, students should contact the PMS nurse’s office on campus or talk to Malcom Morgan in Student Life about upcoming events.