Free HIV testing for students

Charts showing new AIDS cases in the U.S. by region, 2007; Southern blacks have by far the highest AIDS rate in the region. Chicago Tribune 2009

With MED-SOUTH-AIDS:tb, Chicago Tribune by Dahleen Glanton

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After losing a family member diagnosed with AIDS in 2006, Jai Smith, the director of ASUA Pride Alliance, decided to do what he could to stop the spread of the disease.

Pride Alliance, UA's LGBT resource center, and other groups on campus are coming together next week to provide free HIV testing for students.


""I feel like a lot of times, the generation that we currently live in has a feeling of beingindestructible,"" Smith said. ""We don't take our health as seriously as we should, especially our sexual health.""

Testing is important because the number of cases of HIV and AIDS are on the rise. According to a press release from Pride Alliance, the ""number of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases increased by 15 percent"" between 2004 and 2007.

In Arizona, for example, more than 11,000 people have HIV or AIDS, according to the release.

The testing event will take place Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, located on the fourth floor of the Student Union Memorial Center.

The Pride Alliance, the Women's Resource Center, the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, the Pima County Health Department, the Student Health Advisory Committee, MedPride and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership will sponsor this event.

The Pride Alliance plans to hold four testing events this school year. Last year about 60 students had to be put on waitlists to be tested by the Women's Resource Cennter.

The testing is targeted toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals and minority women, because those groups are most at risk, but anyone is welcome to sign up for the testing, said Smith.

""Last year, I decided that's the best thing that could get the most people involved in an open discussion about HIV,"" Smith said. ""And it just sort of blossomed from there.""

Each organization involved has volunteered their resources or their time, so the only cost is for the test itself, which is $7 or $8 dollars apiece and will be funded by the Pride Alliance budget.

For this event, nurse practitioners will administer finger tests, and the results will be processed in about 10 minutes. Tests will be administered in a private room and the results will be kept confidential. The event is also an opportunity for students to ask questions and receive information confidentially, according to the organization.

There are 60 total spots available for next week's testing, and about 30 spots are still open.

Participation in the event is by RSVP only, and those interested should contact  Smith at

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