Not enough pricks: STI testing fails to meet Lafayette student needs

Usually, students drag themselves to take tests–not line up for them and get turned away. Sex Week’s day of free HIV and STI testing took place in Bailey’s Health Center by outside agency Novus Adult Care Services, equipped with supplies for 30 complete tests.

But the need was greater than that.

“I actually didn’t think we’d have this much interest,” Dean of Gender and Sexuality Gene Kelly wrote in an email.

“When we ran out, we ran out,” Linna Kurisco of Novus said. “We felt really bad that we weren’t able to accommodate people. Hopefully there will be better planning in the future.”

Kelly is looking to do just that. “I plan on speaking with the practitioner at Novus as well as Dr. Jeff Goldstein…about offering this sort of program more,” he wrote. He noted that he was “very pleased” with the general student interest surrounding the testing.

The free testing appointments, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., included a blood drawing to check for HIV and syphilis and a urine culture and swabs for gonorrhea and chlamydia.

Novus Adult Care Services is based in Bethlehem.

“We care for all, but specialize in quality healthcare for members of the LGBT community,” reads the Novus website. The facility opened its doors this past May and also visits clinics and schools. The clinic has been met with “mixed reviews,” Kurisco said, “which is fine! Fifty percent of our population is heterosexual and many people really love the facility and feel very comfortable going there.”

Over the summer, Kurisco saw an epidemic of gonorrhea in the areas where she worked. As fall moved in, the spotlight turned to a growing problem of chlamydia. As for winter, the process of data collection is ongoing– “it’s going to be a tie between the two,” Kurisco predicted. But by working in the clinic and in collaboration with other organizations, Kurisco hopes to “work herself out of a job”–to promote testing, treatment and education to the point where these contagious infections and the need for their preventions and follow-ups are eradicated.

This is not a short-term goal, but Kurisco is optimistic. “It’s getting difficult trying to teach [Lafayette students about sexual health] because you guys are so darn educated!” she exclaimed.

Still, she left the campus with one piece of advice for all of us: “Get tested. People are only as honest as they want to be.”

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