UNH Health Services will be holding free HIV testing on Thursday, Dec. 1 as a part of World AIDS Day (WAD). WAD was created in order to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS research, and to give individuals around the world opportunities to unite in the fight against HIV by showing support for those inflicted with the virus and helping to commemorate those who have died.
More than 1.2 million individuals currently carry the HIV virus, and one in eight of them don’t know it. From 2005 to 2014, the number of new HIV diagnoses fell by 19 percent, according to the website aids.gov. This is believed to be due to the fact that HIV testing has increased in recent years and because of people getting tested there has been a decline in new infections.
WAD was first celebrated in 1991 and was started by a group of artists in the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus. The UNH Health Services website states that the color red was chosen because of its “connection to blood and the idea of passion– not only anger, but love.” It was never copyrighted, which allowed it to remain as a tool to raise awareness versus being a trademark.
The acronym HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. Left untreated, the virus can develop into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The virus is spread most commonly through sexual behaviors, and any behavior involving needles or syringes. Only certain body fluids such as rectal and vaginal fluids, semen, pre-seminal fluid and blood, allow for the spread of HIV. The virus cannot be spread through casual contact, such as kissing. Using condoms properly can prevent HIV and other STIs. Health Services offers free condoms, dental dams and lubrication in room 249; no questions asked.
During Health Services’ normal office hours on Thursday, students can stop by and get tested for HIV. The test is confidential and does not involve any needles– just a simple mouth swab. Results are given in 20 minutes and early treatment is very crucial to living a healthy life with HIV. In addition to free testing, there will be a table in the Memorial Union Building where students can come and get a red ribbon. Students can also take a photo with the Wildcat statue outside the Whittemore Center, since it will be sporting a red ribbon. Health Services asks that if anyone posts to social media anything about the day, that they use #WAD2016. More information on what Health Services is offering can be found at http://www.unh.edu/health-services/wad.