March 3, 2020
UCCS students can receive free HIV testing on campus each semester because of MOSAIC and the LGBT Resource Center’s testing event on March 11.
Jesse Perez, assistant director of MOSAIC and director of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, said that the event takes place in UC 303 A and B. The two separate rooms add privacy and reduce wait times. According to Perez, MOSAIC and the LGBT Resource Center have partnered for the past six to seven years and have been providing free HIV testing to students.
“MOSAIC and the LGBT Resource Center have maintained this partnership for the four years I have been in my role, and it was in place two to three years before that,” said Perez. The testing event is student focused but will be available to any community member who visits, said Perez.
The organization administering the testing is the Southern Colorado Health Network (SCHN). This organization plans to offer free STI testing events with UCCS’ Wellness Center.
“MOSAIC and the LGBT Resource Center provide education around HIV/AIDS prevention and free HIV testing each semester,” said Perez.
Even though ethnicity is not a risk factor for HIV, Perez said that another purpose of the event is to help increase access for communities of color.
“In addition to promoting sexual health and challenging stigma connected to the LGBTQ community,” Perez said, “an alternative purpose is to raise awareness about the impact of HIV in communities of color. We stress that ethnicity is not a risk factor for HIV/AIDS.”
A lack of support services in communites of color is an issue of concern.
“HIV/AIDS is found wherever there is limited access to support services — such as education and health care — and high rates of homelessness, malnutrition, substance use, mental illness, incarceration and poverty — which unfortunately is often the case in many minority communities,” said Perez.
Homophobia, stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people still exist in the United States and can negatively affect the health and well-being of this community.”
Perez said that the goal is to provide free HIV testing that is anonymous and in a central location on campus, therefore making it more accessible to students at UCCS.
“Historically, the medical community has not had great relations with LGBTQ+ communities and communities of color. Some of these historical pieces are felt today and prevent folks from accessing care due to intimidation and fear of discrimination. SCHN is known for being affirming to LGBTQ+ communities.”
The testing will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.