HIV/AIDS Awareness Week at Pierce College wrapped up two weeks’ worth of programs Thursday, Oct. 27.
The Student Health Center designed two of the more prominent programs of the event: speakers invited to classrooms around campus based on instructors’ requests and free HIV testing in Parking Lot 1. The first week of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week was dedicated to the speakers, while the second week was dedicated to the free testing.
“The goal of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week is to hype up students’ awareness of the disease,” said Beth Benne, director of the Student Health Center. “I want students to know and remember that it is not something that they should playing around with.”
Two different HIV testing organizations in Los Angeles tested around 200 students during the four days that free HIV testing was available on campus.
“Only one out of four people that has HIV knows that they have it,” said Matt Goldman, HIV testing counselor on behalf of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “In fact, the fastest growing segments of the population with HIV are kids between 17 and 26, so it is very important for everybody to get tested. HIV is a manageable disease, as long as you catch it early.”
The test was free and confidential, and the results were available after 20 minutes.
“We provide our services to all communities, all races, genders and all sexual orientations, “ said Jessica Alvarez, HIV counselor from Bienestar, the other mobile unit from Latino human community services.
They provided two different types of test: finger stick and cheek swab.
“You don’t need to travel,” said Poindexter, a 23-year-old journalism major who opted for the cheek swab. “It is coming to you. Not only you get information, you can learn, too.”
During the process of testing, the counselors gave some information about the HIV and AIDS to the people. There were brochures and condoms available for students to take with them.
“We also have clinics, doctors and medicines to care for the people that don’t have insurance,” said Goldman. “I know it is a little mobile unit, but we really [get] the job done.”
HIV/AIDS Awareness Week is hosted two times in a year, but for the rest of the year any student can come to the Health Center and get $9 blood test for HIV. It takes 24 hours to get the result, said Benne.