The college's chapter of Acting on AIDS is sponsoring a campus-wide HIV testing event on Wednesday, Feb. 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in rooms 1106 and 1108 of the Schaap Science Center.
In advance of the testing, Acting on AIDS will be presenting the video "Absolutely Positive" on Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Cook Auditorium of the De Pree Art Center. The video features the lives of 11 American HIV-positive individuals.
The chapter encourages the campus community to participate in the video and the testing. Admission to the video and the testing are both free.
The tests, which will be confidential, are oral swabs and will be administered by nurses from the Ottawa County Health Department. The results will be given a one-week follow-up, with representatives of the health department returning to campus to give individuals their results in the Counseling Center in the DeWitt Center. Therapists will be available to meet with anyone who requests it.
According to the chapter, the events have been scheduled in conjunction with national Black History Month in light of the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS in the Black community and also as the group works to counter the stigma about AIDS that has kept many individuals regardless of race from getting tested.
The chapter intends to show solidarity with those who are living with HIV daily; to decrease the stigma behind getting tested for HIV; to battle the idea that HIV is an "over there" virus and AIDS is an "over there" disease; to overcome the "it's better not to know" mindset; and to foster and demonstrate dedication to doing one's part as socially responsible adults in ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
"Please keep in mind that we understand many people will say that they are not at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, and this is true, many of us are not," they note. "However, the purpose of this campaign is to chip away at the stigma and fear associated with being tested regardless of sexual history."