The A.P. Beutel Health Center enables Aggies to be proactive in their sexual health through free testing for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Student Health Services is offering free STI testing for Texas A&M students on the first Wednesday of February, March and April. The first testing event will take place on Feb. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Beutel in room 027. Students who bring their university or government ID will be offered a urine, blood or throat/rectal swab test during the event, depending on the STI’s they choose for screening. SHS will email testing results to students a month after their samples are taken.
Medical laboratory administrator and medical technologist Jo Ann Culpepper coordinates the free STI testing. She said over 400 students participated in the past, and she hopes to have over 500 this year.
“This is for free and we want to encourage people, if it's appropriate, to have those sites tested, but we want them to be cooperative as well,” Culpepper said.
Culpepper said the test does not require fasting and is done efficiently so that students can finish in a timely manner. February’s round of STI testing will be quicker than previous testing events, and health Promotion will also be present to distribute educational material to Aggies, she said.
“Some people don’t even know they’re infected, so this is a great way to have that reassurance,” Culpepper said. “If there is something, then our medical staff reviews all results, and they’ll call you in if there’s something positive and get you treated right away.”
Engineering sophomore Nadxhieli Juarez is familiar with the free STI services offered at Beutel and has participated in the past. Sexual health is an important topic that should not be seen as a taboo, Juarez said.
“I think that it’s awesome that they’re offering [STI testing],” Juarez said. “That it's kind of like one of the benefits of being a student at A&M, that you have that resource.”
Though her experience was informative, Juarez said offering free testing on one day out of the month may be difficult for people with tight schedules. Juarez also suggested going with friends to get tested, as it would make for a more comfortable experience.
“It definitely needs to be normalized,” Juarez said. “I think the harder part is getting the courage to get up and go, ‘cause it’s easy to ignore that kind of thing.”
Oceanography sophomore Thomas Garza has been to a previous testing event at Beutel and he said his experience was judgement-free. He believes A&M has a lot of students who don’t practice enough safe sex.
“If you’re sexually active, it should be mandatory to go,” Garza said.