African American Student Services will be offering free HIV/AIDS testing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Students will be able to receive testing in the Student Union Building after signing up at the AASS office located in Mesa Vista Hall.
Christopher Collins, the senior program advisor for the AASS office, said his goal Wednesday — National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — is to get students to utilize these services by making them available and free.
“What we wanted to do is give students and those here at UNM…the resources or the availability to get those tests,” Collins said.
Collins said that, depending on the success of the event, AASS will host more testing events in the future — even if it is not, the group will continue to raise awareness.
“If they can have prevention or preventative measures, that makes the student body much more safe. We want to keep that a recurring thing,” Collins said.
According to a 2015 Center for Disease Control study, HIV/AIDS affects the African American community the most, with 45 percent of African Americans accounting for all diagnoses while making up only 12 percent of the U.S. population.
Margaret Allen, an emergency medicine major, said she thinks universities and university organizations should offer HIV/AIDS testing to students.
“I think there is a lot of stigma associated with it…also, they don’t want to pay for it,” she said, adding it could feel like “paying for bad news.”
Students should actively seek out testing but may face obstacles to checking their health, Allen said.
Another UNM student, Joseph Montaño-Plioch, and said testing is a good idea.
“If I had free time, I would go to one,” he said, adding that students should not feel any shame. “They should go so they can protect themselves.”
In addition to HIV/AIDS testing during Black History Month, AASS will be holding more than a dozen different events with topics ranging from self-identity to entertainment.
Student Health and Counseling Services also offers free gonorrhea and chlamydia testing every Tuesday by appointment, as well as free rapid HIV testing the second and fourth Thursday of every month.
Anthony Jackson is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TonyAnjackson.