By Elsie McElroy, Will Kamps, Thomas Henbest, and Brock Mackinnis
Vivent Health partnered with UWGB’s Pride Center to offer free STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) testing to UWGB students, faculty, and staff. Testing was offered through Vivent health for several days throughout this 2022 spring semester in February and March, with the last free testing day on March 22nd.
According to the CDC and its overview of STIs, STIs “…refers to a pathogen that causes infection through sexual contact…” If the infections are left untreated for some time, the infection can then develop into an STD or sexually transmitted disease. Prevention and early testing programs can catch infections such as Chlamydial Infection, the different strains of Hepatitis, and HIV Infection.
A young gay man in a WebMD interview explained his experience with his HIV diagnosis. “It was very traumatic to learn I had HIV. Waking up, it [HIV] was the first thing on your mind and going to sleep. It was the last thing on your mind.”
The CDC claims that several populations are at a higher risk of catching STIs or being severely impacted. The CDC noted that men who have sex with other men “…are disproportionately at risk for HIV infection…” and that “[a] substantial number of MSM remain unaware of their HIV diagnosis…”
Considering these types of life-changing and potentially fatal threats are a higher risk for these communities, it is logical why the Pride Center would seek to offer such a service. “Testing provides an opportunity for individuals to take control of monitoring their health,” Kurth explained. Vivent Health, the Pride Center’s partner in this event, has claimed that they are “…committed to being a respectful, caring partner serving everyone affected by HIV through our comprehensive, integrated prevention, care, and treatment programs.”
Nicole Kurth, Interim Pride Center Coordinator, said, “We started collaborating with ARCW (Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin), now Vivent Health. It has been around since before 2011 when I started, and I have only heard positive feedback from students.”
UWGB has a rich history of partnership with Vivent Health, and this ensures not only quality care but also confidentiality for those who are tested. Nicole Kurth outlined, “We do not handle the testing. Vivent Health does. We provide a private room and ambient noise so the room cannot be heard. Vivent has forms that are filled out by anyone getting tested. We do not require people to sign up for testing. It’s walk-in based.”
For those that missed the Pride Center’s STI testing dates, the Wellness Center also provides STI screenings for students and faculty year-round. The free STI screenings from the Pride Center will likely be returning in the fall 2022 semester.
Kurth was able to elaborate on many of the other services the Pride Center has offered to students, faculty, and staff free of charge since 2011. Such services include Safe Ally Training at different levels, History Events, Monthly/weekly programs, online social groups, Lavender Graduation, Queer book, Middle School and High School Summer Pride Camp, Online Fall Pride Camp, and more.
Nicole also touched on other concerns of the LGBT community on campus, saying, “Students want a welcome, open, and affirming place to gather and be themselves. This and many other reasons are why the Pride Center exists to educate the public and support members of the LGBTQIA+ community – both on campus and in the city of Green Bay’s community.”
For more information on the Pride Center and all its services, email PrideCenter@uwgb.edu with questions/concerns. The Pride Center is also open from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Monday to Friday. Also, check out its Facebook page for up-to-date information.