The month of April is Get Yourself Tested month, and Vandal Health is reminding us that COVID-19 is not all that students should consider getting tested for.
GYT month is a nationwide campaign to bring awareness, mainly to young adults, to get tested for STIs and HIV and protect their sexual health as well as their partner’s. According to the CDC, in 2017 there were more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. More specifically to University of Idaho students, the most recent college health assessment indicated that over 50% of those who are sexually active do not use safer sex supplies. Vandal Health Education seeks to lower these risks and educate students on the UI campus, as well as encourage them to get tested through their upcoming events.
“I think this is an important thing for undergraduate and college-age people to know about,” Seth Rose, a graduate support assistant for Vandal Health, said. “These diseases can take a heavy toll on all adults who get infected. Depending on how many partners you might be having and what types of things you’re doing when it comes to sexual practices, making sure that if you are choosing to do that, you are doing it in a safe manner. Not only is it protecting you, but it’s protecting (your partner) as well.”
The first event will be an STI prevention health hut April 7, on the first floor of the Idaho Student Union Building from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be information and resources to learn about STIs in general, preventative measures, safer sex supplies and promotion for the next event which will be an HIV screening.
Beginning April 12, Vandal Health will launch a website for registration for any college student who pays student fees to sign up for a free HIV screening. The website name and QR codes will be available at the April 7 tabling event.
“This test doesn’t necessarily tell you that you have HIV,” Rose said. “It’s an HIV antibody test. It’s something that can take two minutes for us to tell if somebody’s blood has HIV antibodies, and then we would recommend that person to Vandal Health Clinic or Gritman to get an actual blood draw.”
Vandal Health is also collaborating with the Violence Prevention Programs department and hosting a workshop called Sex Scenes. It will take place over Zoom at 7 p.m. April 22. The workshop will educate students on sexual consent, healthy relationships and setting boundaries. This is in collaboration with Sexual Assault Awareness month, which is also in April. Students can register for this workshop here.
Rose suggests the CDC website if students have any questions or concerns, as well as reaching out to Vandal Health Education.
“This is a great resource that we’ve been pulling information from and point people to for an external resource,” he said. “If you needed more information, it could round out those gaps you might have, and Vandal Health has plenty of other external resources if students need them.”
Bailey Brockett can be reached at [email protected]