Director says, students afraid to get tested for AIDS

by Kimberley Theodore

During the free HIV testing on Wednesday December 2, only 13 students showed up, a dramatic decline over the years that the AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region has provided it.

Free rapid HIV tests were given all day in the Monadnock Lounge, followed by a discussion panel with speakers Susan McNeil, Executive Director of AIDS services for Monadnock Region, Hunter Kirscher, Program support assistant for LGBT for Keene Sate College and Thomas Bennett, Health Science Professor at FPU, was held in Spagnuolo Hall.

Over the years the number of students who have gotten tested has decreased. McNeil stated that at one point 75 students had gotten tested, and that last year only about 25 were tested.

(Photo: Kimberley Theodore)

(Photo: Kimberley Theodore)

McNeil also suggested that it’s because our generation is afraid of what the outcomes may be. She said that it may be because they are afraid of what peers may think of them.

“In the early days you had to draw blood and wait two to three weeks for your results,” said McNeil. “Now it’s as easy as saliva swab, it’s painless, there’s nothing bad about it, and it only takes 20 minutes to get your results.”

Students interviewed around campus offered reasons why they didn’t get tested.

Junior Robbie Sequerria said, “I did it last year and my results came out negative so I didn’t feel like I needed to do it again.”

Sophomore Kendra Syphers said, “Getting tested didn’t interest me. I didn’t feel like I needed it, but I do feel like it was a good idea to have it for free on campus for caution.”

SGA members, staff and faculty filled Spagnuolo Hall for the panel.

“Everybody needs to know their HIV status. Otherwise how are we going to end this pandemic?” said McNeil.

McNeil suggests that student leaders way of helping peers get over the stigma by having conversations and encourage them.

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(Screenshot: Kim Theodore)

(Screenshot: Kim Theodore)

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