Free HIV tests today

Allen Hines

The DeWeese Health Center is offering free, anonymous HIV tests by appointment today.

The Community AIDS Network will perform the free tests today and later this month.

Danny Boomhower, a specialist with the Community AIDS Network, said he finds the work rewarding because he enjoys educating people about HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.

“When testing, I do my best to ease the client should he (or) she feel like they put themselves at extreme risk,” Boomhower said in an e-mail interview. “Through talking and basic counseling techniques, most clients leave the session feeling secure and much more educated about HIV and the ways one can contract it.”

When students come in for the test, they will fill out an intake form about personal sexual practices and condom use. Using the information provided on the form, the tester will then talk with the students about the potential risks of their sexual activity.

After the discussion, the test begins. The tester will swab a student’s finger with alcohol, prick the finger with a small lancet, then draw a small sample of blood. Solution is added to the sample, and results appear in five to 10 minutes.

“The first time I was tested, results took one week to process,” Boomhower said. “For that week, I couldn’t sleep. Thankfully, things have changed.”

The test is 99.8 percent accurate. It is also 100 percent sensitive, so if a student tests negative, he or she is negative.

Boomhower said students should not be concerned that his group is not related to the university. The testing follows Ohio Department of Health protocol, and all testers are trained to provide the service.

Dianne Kerr, associate professor in adult counseling, health and vocational education, said she thinks the rate of infection is the same it has been for many years, even among college students, who she says know a lot more about the virus. Because the infection rate is the same, she said it was important to get tested.

“One of the only studies that was ever done on college students said that one in 500 is infected with HIV,” she said.

Anonymous testing means no name or other information is associated with the test results. The Community AIDS Network reports all positives to the Health Department, but any other information is kept confidential.

Future tests are scheduled for Oct. 30 and Nov. 19. Scott Dotterer, coordinator of the Office of Health Promotion, said walk-ins cannot always be seen by the tester. To make an appointment, call the Office of Health Promotion at 330-672-2320.

Contact College of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Allen Hines at [email protected]