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Annual HIV Testing - Good for Students, Bad for Ignorance

What if everyone had to take an AIDS test? Would it be so bad? Well, that’s what Arizona State University is considering.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control suggested that yearly HIV testing should be included in check ups for individuals between 13 and 64 years of age. On the heels of this statement, the Director of Campus Health, Dr. Stephanie Schroeder, has offered to include testing in women’s annual health exams, if the students choose to participate.

This is an incredible effort to end the rising numbers of people who don’t know their HIV status and risk passing the virus on to a partner inadvertently.

There has been some criticism of these policies because they don’t include counseling prior to the test. With a subject like HIV it is still important to assess a person’s risk and give them the tools needed to make better decisions about sex in the future.

I remember my first AIDS test as if it were yesterday. While it was definitely scary, it was a sexual health milestone. It represented sexual responsibility on a grand scale. I had decided to be sexually active, and getting tested goes along with the territory.

Of course, not everyone I knew thought the same way. Many of my friends (yes, even my friends) refused to be tested. I suppose for them, ignorance was bliss. But I knew better and if I was going to spread the "Get Tested" message, I was going to have to practice what I preached.

I did take my closest friend to be tested many years ago and I will say it was an incredible experience. No matter what the results were, I wanted to be there for her - for support, encouragement, and pride. Yes, I was proud that she too was being responsible.

So I like that ASU is considering annual HIV testing. I think more schools should consider it. And you? Would it have made a difference in your life or in the way that you had sex back then?

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I've always had fairly regular HIV tests. It's just good sense to me, and I think it would be great if that mindset started in school.

I think it is a super idea. Adding HIV testing to your sexual health repertoire just gets in into your head that this is something you have to do to stay sexually responsible.

As for school politics, isn't it more important to empower students with correct skills, knowledge, and services than send them off into the world unprepared (and unhealthy)?

It wouldn't have made much of a difference for me the way I had sex back then, however getting tested would have definitely made alot of waves in my ultra conservative private college. We once had Student Packs, the sponsored boxes from different sponsors given to all students upon registration and there were condoms in there. The Board made a decision to take out all the condoms before they handed the Student Packs to us---to dissuade us from having sex. This was a very bad move, as it led to way more in school pregnancies that year than any year previously as well as a rampant HPV outbreak.

Schools should be a strong voice in promoting sexual health and I think doing an annual AIDS drive would help to keep people more aware of what they are doing sexually as well as get the 'scary' factor out of the HIV testing process.

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