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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

Free HIV testing will be given through Thursday in IMU

Culture of Care is conducting free HIV testing today through Thursday in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Health and Wellness room.

The testing, which takes 30 minutes, is offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day as part of Culture of Care Week.

For the testing, Culture of Care partnered with Centerstone, a community-based behavioral health care provider that offers mental health services, substance abuse treatment and disabilities services.

Last September, Centerstone was awarded a grant called Community Capacity for Prevention and Education (CCPE).

Along with giving students an opportunity to check their HIV status, one of the main goals of the testing is to start a conversation about risk factors and behaviors that can lead to substance abuse and HIV, Program Manager for the CCPE grant Matthew Clay said.

“One of the major things that can really go a long way is education,” Clay said. “A lot of times people aren’t necessarily sure of what constitutes as an HIV risk 
behavior.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awards the CCPE grant with a goal of reducing the start of substance abuse and HIV transmission within the target population, which is 13- to 24-year-olds in Monroe County.

Once awarded this grant, Centerstone began networking with organizations in the community, including Culture of Care, Positive Link and IU Health, to begin planning for events such as free HIV testing.

“We’re trying to provide a platform for them to promote their services while also doing HIV prevention,” Clay said.

As part of the research portion of this project, John Putz, Centerstone 
operations manager for research and evaluation, will be collecting data throughout the week to use toward evaluating the usage of the CCPE grant.

Putz will be using this data to ensure Centerstone met the aims and goals of the program. These goals include increasing the knowledge about risky behaviors associated with HIV, making sure more people know their HIV status and working to change the stigma surrounding HIV.

“We’re trying to work with the campus community and other partners around Monroe County to help change those perceptions and increase public health as a result,” Putz said.

Along with the testing, students will be having discussions with those at Centerstone about the stigma surrounding HIV. Putz will be collecting data from these discussions to help establish a baseline understanding of people’s beliefs and attitudes about HIV.

Putz and his team will follow up with students who take part in this program in six months.

“Our hope is that maybe after participating in the program, some of their attitudes and beliefs around this health behavior will have changed at that time,” Putz said.

Getting tested for HIV should be as easy as getting a physical or a check-up, 
Clay said.

“There are no grounds for a stigma surrounding HIV,” Clay said. “That’s something we’re really trying to work on normalizing.”

Clay said a big way to fight this stigma is to get tested and not be afraid to talk about it.

There will also be a sign-up sheet in the Health and Wellness room for students to set up another time to get tested if this week does not work for them.

“We just want to make it as easy as possible because students are so busy,” 
Clay said.

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