Nearly 30 University of Western Ontario students were administered the Rapid HIV Test last week as part of a three-day pilot program offered by the University Students’ Council (USC) during AIDS Awareness Week.
The Options Clinic, which offers Rapid HIV Testing sites in the London area, set up a satellite location at the University Community Centre on Nov. 24-25 and 28. The Rapid HIV test involves a small blood sample taken from a pinprick, which is used to test for antibodies to HIV. Unlike traditional testing methods which can take several weeks, these results are available within a minute.
Cara Eng, USC Vice-President Campus Issues, was impressed by the turnout.
“We basically filled up the whole week which was a huge success and we didn’t anticipate that kind of response, but it’s very, very positive,” she says, adding six people had to be deferred to the downtown location because the clinic was over capacity.
The USC planned to bring The Options Clinic back in second semester to offer another Rapid HIV Testing session, however due to the overwhelming response “we are looking to increase how many clinics we offer,” she says.
“Everyone is basically willing to do everything they can to make sure this program stays at the campus and we can make it as successful as possible.”
Raising awareness about HIV testing is important because university students make up the second-largest demographic of HIV-positive individuals, says Eng.
“Students and all members of the community should be aware of AIDS and what it is and the reality of it in our community. It’s really important to keep that mentality for the rest of the year,” she says.