County offers free HIV tests
Brazos County takes aim at virus prevention
Published: Monday, January 13, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014 23:01
In an effort to increase the health of both individuals and the community, the Brazos County Health Department will provide free HIV tests with same-day results on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Tests will be administered on a walk-in basis and individuals need only to provide a picture ID and fill out a medical history form, said Jessica Paul, Brazos County health educator. The process is simple and confidential, she said.
“Patients who come in to get these tests will sit behind a curtain and will be called by a letter or number instead of their name,” Paul said. “This ensures that patients’ privacy is protected.”
David Teller, associate director for medical services at Beutel, said Beutel also offers HIV testing, but the cost is $30 and the results take a couple of weeks to come back to the clinic. The cost, however, covers a confirmation test if the results are positive.
“The rapid tests at the Brazos County Health Center are more accessible compared to the tests offered at Beutel,” Teller said. “They’re completely accurate and hopefully it’ll encourage more people to get tested because it also offers greater anonymity since most people are conscious of getting tested for HIV.”
HIV is transferred to individuals when infected bodily fluids come into contact with damaged tissue or a mucous membrane or are directly injected into the bloodstream. The virus is commonly transmitted to individuals engaging in unprotected sex or unsafe drug-injections, Teller said, and those who participate in these high-risk activities should be tested.
“Practicing safe sex and not using needles is the best way to avoid contracting HIV,” Teller said. “Prevention is the key when dealing with the possibility of getting HIV.”
Paul said she hopes students will take advantage of these free tests because the sooner HIV is caught, the sooner patients may receive medication to avoid passing HIV to others and to prevent it from becoming AIDS.
“The Brazos County Health Clinic also offers treatment and counseling services that can help you if you are HIV positive,” Paul said. “Not treating HIV can get out of hand quickly.”
Sophomore health major, Linley Martin, said free testing will cause students to be proactive about their health, especially since they won’t have to worry about the cost usually associated with HIV testing.
“It relieves the financial pressure associated with being a college-aged student, which will in turn increase the amount of students willing to get tested,” Martin said. “There are many students on campus that could be at risk for contracting HIV. Students who think they could even remotely be at risk should take advantage of free testing to protect their health.”