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Planned Parenthood to administer free HIV testing at Fort Lewis College

Students and visitors are encouraged to stop by, even for free contraceptives
Planned Parenthood will administer free rapid HIV tests at Fort Lewis College for World AIDS Day. “It’s like a blood sugar test,” said Planned Parenthood spokesman Bailey Carlson. “We take a little bit of blood and give the individual results in a minute. It’s a really quick process.” (John Raby/Associated Press file)

Planned Parenthood will provide free rapid HIV testing from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Student Union at Fort Lewis College. The testing is being held on World AIDS Day, established in 1988 as the first ever global health day.

Planned Parenthood representative Bailey Carlson promises the test is nothing more than a finger poke.

“It’s like a blood sugar test,” he said. “We take a little bit of blood and give the individual results in a minute. It’s a really quick process.”

Though Planned Parenthood will administer rapid HIV tests rather than the standard version, Carlson emphasizes their efficiency.

“These tests are incredibly accurate,” he said. “I think it’s about in the ninety-sixth or ninety-seventh percentile. It is looking for the antibodies and antigens that show up, typically, if someone has HIV. It’s a great way to know your status.”

Carlson said it is important for people who are sexually active to get tested, not just for their sake, but for their partner’s sake as well.

“It’s really important to know their status and to share their status, especially when they’re with a new partner or just for their own comfort,” he said. “If it's not a new partner, they should get tested once a year. That’s kind of the baseline. You want to wait about two weeks after a new partner to get tested because any sooner than that, typically, HIV or another STI isn’t going to show up.”

Students or visitors to the campus who are not interested in getting tested are still encouraged to stop by the Planned Parenthood table for free contraceptives, free stickers and free candy.

“We’ll also have informational cards because we try to make sure people are educated, and they’re getting the resources that they need,” Carlson said.

The rapid HIV testing will be held in FLC’s Student Union in Room 213. Those who cannot attend the event are encouraged to call or text (505) 320-9759 to make an appointment for a free test.

“Even if people just want to come say hi, grab some condoms and learn a little more about HIV and prevention, that would be great,” Carlson said. “Just educating people and breaking the stigma is really what we’re going for.”

molsen@durangoherald.com

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