Students and healthcare professionals talk about STI resources on campus and across the city – The Columbia Chronicle

Colleen Hogan

April was STI Awareness Month and although HIV cases have declined since the 1980s, 38,000 Americans and more than 600 Chicago residents are still diagnosed every year, according to a report from April 18 Sun-Times report.

The latest 2019 HIV and STI Surveillance Report, conducted by the Chicago Department of Public Health, reported 652 new cases of HIV diagnosed among residents in 2019, a 14% decrease from the previous year. ‘last year.

Hadeis Safi, Community Programs and Initiatives Manager for Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine and LGBTQ+ Liaison for the Department of Pediatrics, is part of the group partnering with Columbia and other area colleges to provide free sexually transmitted infection screening on college campuses.

“[Testing] is what you do if you have sex,” Safi said. “If you are not comfortable being tested for STIs and HIV…be sure to use condoms or some form of biomedical prevention, and note that if you are not comfortable receiving these services, you may want to rethink these actions, especially around having sex because STIs are only part of the human experience. It’s not new. They didn’t appear in the 80s.”

Dr. Beverly Anderson, associate dean of student health and support, said the health center has partnered with Lurie Children’s Hospital since 2018 to provide free on-campus testing to 10 students once. per month from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Students can call the Health Center to make an appointment.

Anderson said the 10 slots aren’t always filled, but sometimes students book an appointment and don’t show up, which prohibits other students from getting tested.

According to the health center’s website, if students need testing resources on a day when on-campus testing is not offered, they will be directed to free services elsewhere in the city. Testing is not offered in the summer or in December or January due to holidays, and STI treatment is not offered on campus.

Anderson said the partnership with Lurie Children’s The hospital provides referrals to primary care, mental health care and support groups for students who test positive for an STI.

But from October 2021 to January 2022, Safi said their group at Lurie Children’s Hospital was understaffed and unable to travel to the Columbia campus to administer testing, but was still offering free testing to the Hospital, 225 E. Chicago Ave.

Some students expressed concerns about the STI screening resources provided by the health center.

Ariana Kanaya, a senior acting major, said she had to use city resources due to Columbia’s test days not coordinating with her schedule.

“I would like Columbia to provide easily accessible and regularly accessible resources and not something that we expect,” Kanaya said.

Spencer Washington, a freshman graduate student studying creative writing, said they were unaware that Columbia even offered STI testing at the health center.

“I haven’t heard of it since I’ve been here.” Washington said, adding that all students, regardless of year of study, should be aware of on-campus testing.

Washington instead found free testing services at Howard Brown Health Center and Out Of The Closet, a nonprofit thrift store that also offers HIV testing resources.

Anderson said she wanted students to get tested and take advantage of the free service, but was unsure of the best way to reach students.

“I would like to know how [students] would prefer to receive the information because we want them to benefit from it because it is a free service. And then by the same token, I would like them to consider that if you sign up for a date, stick to your date,” Anderson said.

Sara Valdivia, prevention coordinator for the division of adolescent medicine at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said if a student seeks services during a time when their campus is not offering screenings, they can contact and make an appointment at the hospital.

Planned Parenthood is another STI and HIV testing resource for college students. Although their services are not free, Yvonne Oldaker, the associate medical director of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said they would work with the client insurance provider and have a sliding scale of payments based on patient income.

According to the CDC, a person should be tested once a year or if they have a new partner. Oldaker also recommends getting tested if symptoms of STIs appear or if there are any doubts about your partner’s sexual activities.

Mya Lyman, a film major, said she needed an STI test over spring break this semester, but Planned Parenthood had no appointments available at the time. Lyman said they were also unable to find resources at Columbia and returned to California over spring break and were tested. the.

“Health services, in general, need to be made available, but especially on college campuses, because it’s really a stepping stone to … a person who is aware that you should get tested frequently,” Lyman said. “If a college was very open about it and had the services, they could get people to get tested.”

Safi said they wanted the students to know that many people are affected by STIs and that it is his responsibility to let someone know they need to get tested.

“If someone makes you feel bad because you told them you had an STI and they should get tested, they’re not a good person and you’re doing the right thing by letting someone know. ‘one what he needs to do to take care of themselves,’ Safi said. “There’s nothing wrong with having an STI. It happens. It happens to a lot of people.

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