HIV cases among young adults rising

Despite its stigma, the statistics are alarming – adults ages 18 to 24 account for onethird of new HIV infections in Ohio.

While reported HIV infections on college campuses nationwide were only 0.2 percent in 2002, the vast majority of HIV-positive students do not know their status, according to the American College Health Association.

In partnership with Substance Abuse Services, Inc. of Toledo, The Wellness Connection at the University’s Health Center has begun offering free and confidential HIV testing from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays.

“I’d encourage everyone to take the rapid test. It’s the only way we can really make prevention possible,” said Andrea Colcord, health educator at the Wellness Connection.

“We as educators need to educate those who are positive how to prevent transmitting the disease, and those who are negative – how to stay negative.”

The free rapid-testing, not offered at most universities, takes 30 minutes or less.

“I think it’s beneficial and it definitely increases awareness; not every school does this,” said Chris Gyurnek, freshman.

While SASI has offered free HIV testing in the past, this year is a first for the rapid-testing.

“It’s such an easy test.” said Kathleen Trenchik, director of Substance Abuse Services, Inc.

The test is performed by inserting a porous flat pad between the teeth and lip, then rubbing the device completely across the gum line.

This device is then placed in a solution which will produce results in 20 minutes.

The test is 99.7 percent accurate.

If there is a reaction to the test, it is not confirmed positive until a similar test is administered for further testing, which usually takes one week.

Trenchik stressed that HIV is a preventable disease and students should be aware of how to protect themselves.

“It is necessary to protect yourself by using latex condoms, each and every time you have sexual activity, including oral and anal sex,” Trenchik said.

You should set up an appointment for the HIV rapid test when you have reached 60 days of ‘safe sex practices.’

During the two-month period prior to the HIV rapid testing, the antibodies for HIV may not be strong enough to show.

“An exception to the twomonth rule would be if you have symptoms of the HIV virus,” Trenchik said.

A comprehensive counseling process is offered to those who test positive.

The testing is completely free and confidential, but by appointment only. Call 419- 372-9355.