by Shannon Salzman
We all know that getting tested regularly is important. In many cases, it is possible for one to contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) without any symptoms. Luckily, free STI screenings are available on campus through a program from the Forsyth County Department of Public Health called Preventing Ongoing Spread of STIs Everywhere (POSSE).
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone from age 13 to 64 years old get tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV or, if the individual has other present sexual risk factors, annually. The CDC also recommends being tested annually or more often for common STIs like Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
Every first and third Tuesday from 3 pm to 5 pm a POSSE staff member is available in Health Services located in Clewell Hall basement for HIV/STI screenings. If these times do not work for you, POSSE also holds regular free screenings at 8 other locations.
The process for STI testing is simple. When you arrive you are given a form to fill out. The form is mostly intended for basic identification information, but also includes a section that helps the POSSE staff member determine your sexual risk factors and thus the kind of tests you should be taking. Some of the various sexual risk factors include the last time you were tested, the number of sexual partners you’ve had in the past six months, and types of sexual acts you have engaged in to determine what types of tests are most appropriate. After filling out the form you will be called into the testing room where the POSSE staff member will draw one sample of your blood if you choose to be screened for HIV, and provide you with swabs and instructions in order to be tested (oral, anal, or vaginal testing) for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
Getting the results of your screening is as simple as calling the number provided on one of the two dates given to you on the card you received following your screening. Or, if you miss the dates that were provided, you can call about visiting the Forsyth County Health Department and ask for your results in person.
While the process can seem a bit intimidating, you can be assured that everyone in Student Health Services and the POSSE staff is both incredibly helpful and professional throughout the process. Additionally, if you need more information about the HIV/STI screening process, you can find it available online at possehealth.org or by asking a staff member in Student Health Services.