Let’s Talk about Sex (safe sex, that is)

 

Valentine’s Day is a time for love, romance, chocolate, and this year, HIV testing.

The PB Poorman PRIDE Resource Center is hosting UW-Whitewater’s first Safe Sex Drive. Interns from PRIDE will be tabling in the University Center on Feb. 13 and 14 providing information on safer sex practices. There will also be safe sex kits handed out on Feb. 14.

There will also be free HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 in U.C. Room 68A.

“It’s a great day to remind people to be as safe as possible in sexual encounters,” Cindy Konrad, LGBT Coordinator said. “We wanted to have a Safer Sex Drive to provide people with information on safer sex, to provide safer sex supplies, and to make it quick and easy to for people to get HIV testing.”

Konrad

DeJuan Washington, a PRIDE Resource Center intern, contacted Ritchie Martin about administering the free, anonymous HIV tests. Martin is a representative from UMOS, a Milwaukee-based company, where he has experience with the rapid saliva HIV test.

Konrad said she has researched the rapid saliva test, and it is just as accurate as a blood test, but does not involve needles and only takes 20 minutes for results.

“Ritchie Martin is there to council the students, give them their results, tell them what their results mean,” Konrad said.

If a student tests positive, Martin will advise them of the next step they should take, including finding somewhere to get help.

This is the first time the campus has had an event like this. Washington was heavily involved in promoting the HIV testing and only had one week to do so.

“For me, it was more so that the African American community is highly infected by this disease,” Washington said. “But when I looked at it from a more broad perspective, it not only affects African Americans, it affects everybody.”

Konrad said in her time working with students, she has noticed that many people say they know about HIV testing and safe sex practices, but when she engages them in conversation, they are lacking vital information. This can be because of inaccurate education, a person not feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and multiple other reasons.

Another problem Konrad said she noticed is among the LGBT community. If sex education is taught in school, it is typically taught from the view of a man and a woman engaging in sexual encounters. Because of this, people in the LGBT community tend not to pay attention and do not learn about safe sex.

“It’s great to have an open environment where we can talk about not specifically identities, but in the various acts that we all engage in, and how to do them in the safest way possible,” Konrad said.

Washington hopes to have at least 100 students get tested. PRIDE Resource Center would like to give out free HIV tests at least twice a semester in the future.

“This is college, sex is going to happen on campus, but I would like for it to be safe because of the risk of catching HIV,” Washington said. “This is not just big for the PRIDE center, but for the entire campus.”

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