By Morgan Nguyen, For The Miami Student

In an effort to promote safe sex practices on campus, BACCHUS, a student health organization, is hosting free HIV testing today. The clinic will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Office of Student Wellness inside the Student Health Center.

Nurse Janae Arno, who serves as Miami University’s wellness coordinator and advisor to BACCHUS, said that the testing — run in collaboration with Miami’s Nursing Department and the AIDS Resource Center in Dayton — is open to all.

The testing is completely confidential, free of charge and requires no pre-registration. Results are returned within a half hour. Students can wait at the clinic or return later after class. The clinics have performed 45 tests so far over three testing dates.

Sophomore Jared Calihan, who attended a previous clinic, said the testing was simple.

“It was a straight-forward process,” Calihan said. “I was glad to find out that the test was a mouth swab and required no blood work.”

Calihan said, in order to participate, he filled out a registration form. He was briefly educated on safe sex practices, given a chance to ask questions, and had his mouth swabbed. The results of the test took about 15 minutes to obtain.

The purpose of hosting the free clinic, Arno explained, is to make it as easy as possible for students to get tested.

“We’ve seen strong attendance at recent events, and I think that’s because the HIV testing is affordable, accessible and anonymous,” said Arno. “Students feel they’re in a neutral, safe space where they are not identified or judged.”

BACCHUS, a student organization promoting healthy and safe lifestyle decision-making, had the idea to put on the event after identifying safe sex as one of their health initiatives this year.

“One of our main focuses is to provide resources and educate our peers,” said senior Allison Briede, the co-president of BACCHUS. “The testing is completely confidential and anyone dealing with any paperwork has been cleared by the Dayton AIDS Resource Center. However, no one will see the results of a test beside the Dayton AIDS memberand the person being tested. ”

Attendance has steadily increased, doubling in numbers since the first event. Briede sees many reasons for this gain in popularity.

“Most people our age have never been tested for HIV, and knowledge is power,” said Briede. “Regardless of the results, students are aware now, which is huge. People need to be aware if they have HIV… and people need to be educated on how to protect themselves. This means more people are talking about safe sex, which is our ultimate goal.”

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