Health fair offers free STD tests to students
Campus Health Service will host its annual “Get Yourself Tested” resource fair on the UA Mall today.
Campus Health hosts the “Get Yourself Tested” resource fair every year in order to provide a resource for students to learn about sexually transmitted diseases and get tested without paying a dime, said Carrie Hardesty, a Campus Health educator.
“Every student, sexually active or not, should have free access to information and testing,” Hardesty said, “and this event allows Campus Health to provide that for them.”
The fair, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is one of many of the sexual health resources Campus Health offers to students, Hardesty said, which also include other annual events and weekly Sex Talk columns.
According to Hardesty, 50 percent of sexually active college students will contract an STD by the age of 25 because many STDs don’t show any signs or symptoms.
The only way to know that one is truly healthy is to get tested, Hardesty said, because there will most likely be zero physical changes.
The mobile truck on the Mall will offer testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, she added, while the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance will offer testing for HIV at Career Services in the Student Union Memorial Center.
“We want to educate everyone [on] the importance of communicating their past sexual histories with their partner,” Hardesty said. “We want them to understand that people can’t tell just by looking at their partner if they have [an STD], because many signs will never be apparent.”
Brooke Ebner, a psychology and sociology freshman, said she feels the fair is a good idea because it leaves students no reason to avoid being tested.
“It eliminates the excuse of not being able to pay for it or having to make time for an appointment or having your parents find out,” Ebner said. “[It] will help students stay safe if they decide to become sexually active.”
Zoe Warren, a senior studying public health and Spanish and a health promotion and preventive services intern, got involved in the event as a volunteer with Campus Health. Warren said she will be helping Hardesty manage and organize the fair throughout the day.
Warren said she was 15 years old when she began working with Planned Parenthood, where she became interested in sex education and outreach events. She has participated in the “Get Yourself Tested” event for the past few years.
Students need to be better educated about STDs, Warren said, and the “Get Yourself Tested” event can help with that.
“It is not something we talk about or teach to students in formal education,” she said, “and it really affects the majority of sexually active people when it is super easy to prevent. I feel like if we can continue to further educate young people about it, we can help keep our campus healthy.”