San Antonio College provides free HIV testing for students.
By Kevin W. Pang
The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, has affected millions of lives since the first documented case in 1959.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2011, there were 34 million people living with HIV, 2.5 million newly infected, and 1.7 million died of AIDS complications, caused by the HIV virus.
HIV testing, experiments on drugs that inhibit the phase of the retrovirus life cycle known as antiretroviral therapy, and educational resources on practicing safe sex are some of the efforts being done to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS that acts toward universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support named UNAIDS states that from 2011-2009 AIDSrelated global deaths fell 25 percent.
In observance, the health promotions office created Project H.O.T. The office will distribute free condoms and lubricant, provide free HIV testing, and give away prizes every 15 minutes.
The event is 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday in Room 150 of Loftin Student Center.
The office promotes student health and partners with community organizations to educate and offer services with the goal of students actively living a healthy lifestyle.
Additional free HIV testing will be offered throughout the spring.
The office will offer HIV testing 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Thursday and Feb. 25, March 4 and 25, and April 8 and 29.
Erika Pena, program coordinator of the health promotions office, emphasizes the responsibility students have to practice safety measures when having sex.
“This is a great opportunity for students to take part in this free service that the health promotions office is offering,” she said.
The allied health department will collaborate with Peer Educators and B.E.A.T. AIDS to host two HIV and STD testing events Wednesday and Thursday to emphasize the importance of responsible sex.
In two testing sessions in the 2011-12 year, Peer Educators served 77 students from this college.
Hal G. Bluntley, program coordinator of the allied health department, said in the past, the group has had an exceptionally large turnout and warrants more events to follow.
Testing through B.E.A.T AIDS requires a college ID, name, address, phone number and date of birth.
B.E.A.T AIDS will ask for a Social Security number if a student tests positive for the virus.
The health promotions office will conduct its HIV testing through the center for health care services and requires students to provide a Social Security number prior to testing.
The testing process for both organizations involves taking a cheek swab, and results are available in 15 minutes.
If a student tests positive, the organizations offer support and counseling.
There have been many legal challenges to disclosing one’s HIV status.
The Supreme Court of Canada in 1998 issued a 9-0 ruling that decided that in cases of a person who has low-levels of HIV and practices sex with condoms does not need to inform a sexual partner.
The levels of HIV can be lowered with antiretroviral therapy,
There have been convictions of aggravated sexual assault when an HIV positive person did not observe safe sex practices by not using a condom and did not disclose their HIV positive status.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Toronto resident Ian Thomas Williams, who is HIV positive. He transmitted his disease to his wife and she died in 2005 of AIDS-related complications.
Williams served a year in prison for aggravated assault.
Williams had low levels of HIV and was conducting antiretroviral therapy but had unprotected sex and did not disclose his HIV status.
Williams pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault in 2011 for not disclosing his HIV status.
CNN reported on Nick Rhoades, a resident from Iowa, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Sept. 11, 2009, under a Class B felony charge of criminal transmission of HIV; other Class B crimes include manslaughter, kidnapping, drug crimes and robbery.
Rhoades said he was on antiretroviral therapy, the amount of HIV was undetectable, and he said he wore a condom.
He did not disclose his HIV status to his partner and in Iowa, which is one of the 32 states that has laws where intentionally or recklessly transmitting HIV to another person is a punishable crime.
In the Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 2, Subtitle D, Chapter 81 Subchapter A Section 81.051(a) states that if the person is tested positive for HIV, “The department shall establish programs for partner notification and referral services.”
Section 81.051(b) says, “If a person with HIV infection voluntarily discloses the name of a partner, that information is confidential.
Partner names may be used for field investigation and notification.”
John Barbo, supervisor of prevention for B.E.A.T AIDS, said that there is no law penalizing HIV-positive individuals for not disclosing their status to sexual partners.
Although there is no legal precedent or legal decision in Texas for prosecuting those who withhold their HIV-status, there have been few cases where those who are HIV-positive and did not disclose their HIV-status to their partner have been prosecuted for providing false information to their sexual partners.
Barbo said, “If a person who is positive for HIV was warned by their partner before that they had HIV, they would have made different choices.”
Barbo said responsibility has three steps: Know your HIV status, get tested and know your partner’s HIV status.
For more information, call Erika Pena at 210-486-0158. The office is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
For more information, call Peer Educators’ Mariana Solis at 210-486-1448 or go to Room 140 of Moody Learning Center.
For more information on allied health, call Buntley at 210-486-1502.
For more information on B.E.A.T. AIDS, call Barbo at 210-212-2266.
The health promotions office will distribute free condoms and lubricant, provide free HIV testing and give away door prizes from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday in Room 150 of Loftin Student Center. Free HIV testing will be provided from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Thursday and Feb. 25, March 4 and 25, and April 8 and 29 in Room 150 of Loftin.