HIV increase in Appleton sparks STD awareness and protection drive

Wesley Hough-Cornwell

Gay, Lesbian, Other or Whatever hosted an on-campus HIV screening Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 8 p.m. in the diversity center. According to GLOW, the screening was in response to a recent increase in HIV prevalence in Appleton. In addition to the screening, Lawrence’s Health Services provided prevention resources to aid in student protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Jared Gebel, president of GLOW, said the goal of the screening was “just to get the word out. We don’t want to scare people out of Appleton who aren’t from this area.” Gebel went on to say that students “shouldn’t be scared to interact with Appleton residents.”
All individuals were able to obtain free HIV screenings Wednesday, but the screening was aimed in particular toward groups most at risk for contracting HIV. These at-risk groups include injected drug users and men who have sex with men.
The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin helped with the testing, and, according to Gebel, made the screening “as confidential as possible.”
The testing served as a way to “get the word out” about the risks associated with HIV and the prevention of HIV in the Lawrence community. Furthermore, the testing gave students a more accessible way to test for HIV. Getting tested is a proactive move for all students on campus who are sexually active, said Gebel.
According to Director of Health Services Susie Muenster, a registered nurse, the recent HIV outbreak is due to simple lack of protection.
“People just don’t understand,” she said, emphasizing that people are choosing not to use sexual protection at all. Muenster does not think people have a good reason for not taking the proper precautionary steps to prevent HIV infection.
Muenster and those sponsoring the HIV screening do not want students on campus to feel threatened by the recent outbreak. Available in the Landis Health Center are different forms of sexual protection, including condoms, dental dams, and latex-free condoms for those with allergies.
Muenster will host a safe sex program Oct. 13 in Sage Hall, titled “Sex on the Beach.”
For more information about HIV and HIV testing, visit the Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin’s Web site at http://www.arcw.org/.

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