Concordia Student Union to Offer Rapid HIV Testing
From Nov. 29 to 30, Union Hopes to Make Testing More Accessible
Concordia Student Union student life coordinator Leyla Sutherland seeks to make HIV testing more public and accessible for Concordia students with an on campus pop-up clinic.
The CSU, in partnership with Health Services, will offer free and rapid HIV testing for Concordia students on Wednesday and Thursday.
Sutherland believes that the pop-up clinic will not only provide students with easier access to testing but will also serve to educate and reduce the stigma surrounding HIV.
“People have many different understandings and misunderstandings about what AIDS is, what HIV is,” said Sutherland. “And a lot people who are HIV-positive do not get tested and do not know, which is often when it gets transmitted.”
Specifically, Canada’s Source for HIV and Hepatitis C Information, also known as CATIE, reports that the number of new HIV diagnoses among youth (ages 15-29) has increased by 17 per cent from 2014 to 2015.
One in five people living with HIV in Canada are unaware that they have the virus. While there is no cure for HIV, Sutherland said that it is very treatable and that treatment begins with getting tested.
Accordingly, the Concordia Student Union has chosen to promote a transparent and accessible approach to HIV testing, in anticipation of Worlds AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
“As far as registering and the promotion, it’s a choice to have it more public in order to help break down stigma,” said Sutherland. “To have it be something that people see as a regular part of taking care of themselves.”
Students can register the day-of, between 12 pm and 4 pm outside of the Student Union Centre—located on the downtown campus at H-711.
The 20-minute test is administered in a private office, and the results are
Students will be asked to fill out a form and meet with a nurse from Concordia Health Services
to answer any questions. For the test, they will have their finger pricked with a small needle to
collect a few drops of blood. Students can then schedule an appointment with Health Services to receive their results.
While the pop-up clinic is promoted as a public event, Sutherland recognizes that not everyone
will feel comfortable in that setting.
“If you don’t want to get tested around people who may know you or you feel concerned about
your safety or your identity being revealed, then there are a lot of other options,” said Sutherland.
Students can find a list of other rapid HIV testing locations in Montreal posted on the Facebook event page. Some locations near campus include the CLSC Metro, at 1801 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West and the Head & Hands Medical Clinic in N.D.G., at 5833 Sherbrooke St. W.
“Doing testing in-house is a way to make it even more accessible to students,” said Sutherland
“The approach is for it to be extremely non-judgmental and based around student care,” she continued. “We also just hope to encourage people to get tested however they feel most comfortable.”