SPARKS Peer Educators offers free HIV test to Elon University students

FEB. 7, 2011

Marlena Chertock

SPARKS Peer Educator sophomore Liz White explains how to give yourself a mouth swab HIV test. Photo by Marlena Chertock.

SPARKS Peer Educators and Alamance Cares partnered up on February 7, 2011 to give free HIV tests to Elon University students from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. SPARKS members manned a table in the Moseley Center where students could get mouth swabs and condoms.

The event is part of Love Your Body month, which falls in the month of February.

“It’s about taking care of your body,” said sophomore Elizabeth White, who was in charge of the table at the time. “Contraceptives is a part of it.”

SPARKS Peer Educators are student leaders who provide  who provide health-related programming and serve the Elon University community as health resources, in order to enhance the well being of their peers.

Alamance Cares is a non-profit agency that focuses on stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS through awareness, education and testing in Alamance and surrounding counties in North Carolina.

Knowing your HIV status is important, White said.

Within 15 minutes three people came by to test their HIV status, White said.

SPARKS offered a mouth swab test. Students put the swab in their mouth, let the test sit for 20 minutes and the result is shown much like a pregnancy test, White said.

Student response to the event has been positive.

“They liked that we’re giving away free condoms,” White said. “I think they like it because they can get it done on campus, it’s free and quick.”

The free HIV testing hosted by SPARKS is not an annual event. But SPARKS held another HIV testing event in December where 60 people showed up to get tested. The HIV testing event is held every couple of months, White said.

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About Marlena Chertock

Marlena Chertock's first collection of poetry, On that one-way trip to Mars, is available from Bottlecap Press. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Marketplace, and WTOP. Her poems and fiction has appeared in The Deaf Poets Society, Moonsick Magazine, and Paper Darts.

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