Alliance to hold free HIV testing

By Jennifer Amsler
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In lieu of World AIDS Day tomorrow, organizations around campus are informing students about the disease this week by inviting speakers to campus, holding a candlelight vigil and offering free HIV testing to students and faculty.

Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance, a group that fosters social and educational support to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community, is hosting the free HIV testing tomorrow in the Palo Verde and Cottonwood rooms in the Student Union Memorial Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Angel Nguyen, co-director of ASUA Pride Alliance, said her organization wanted to hold an event to help students who want to be tested for AIDS/HIV, but don't have the financial means to go to a clinic.

"AIDS is one of the lead death factors in the world," she said. "It seems appropriate to have (testing) free for students."

Nguyen, a retailing and consumer sciences junior, said ASUA Pride Alliance asked the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation to conduct the tests on campus.

The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation representatives will take a mouth swab sample, not a blood sample like some AIDS/HIV tests take, and results will be sent to students within a few weeks, Nguyen said.

Nguyen said she hopes at least 40 students get tested tomorrow because many don't even know basic information about the seriousness of the AIDS epidemic and how important sexual responsibility can be.

"Some people don't even know what a condom is," she said.

The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation is also hosting "HIV 101" tonight - a presentation of information and testimonies from people living with AIDS/HIV.

The presentation will include information about the Ryan White Care Act, a federal act passed in 1990 that qualifies some low-income people with AIDS/HIV for free healthcare.

HIV 101 will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Picacho Room of the SUMC.

The Student Health Advisory Committee, a group that works with Campus Health Service to keep students up-to-date on health issues, is also sponsoring events during the week.

A speaker's panel tomorrow will feature members from the community and representatives from groups on campus.

Dr. Nicole Stern, a spokeswoman from Campus Health, will show her documentary during the discussion featuring the life of a Choctaw Native American living with AIDS/HIV.

Carol Galper, a representative from the UA medical school, will discuss and answer questions about how AIDS/HIV affects the community.

Joe Watkins, a spokesman for Amnesty International, will speak to students about activism in fighting the AIDS/HIV epidemic.

SHAC will host a candlelight vigil tomorrow night to wrap up the week's events. The vigil will be held in front of the Old Main fountain at 7:30 p.m.