Valley College was host to the HIV last Wednesday Afternoon.
By Leilani Peltz, News Editor
More than 1.1 million people in the United States alone are infected with HIV, and almost one in five people are unaware that they have the infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After representatives attended a health fair on campus, Tarzana Treatment Centers coordinated with the Student Health Center to conduct a monthly service for the public for free, anonymous, rapid results HIV testing.
This past Wednesday, a mobile service truck with two workers from the Reseda center came to Valley College to perform the testing. Hepatitis C testing was also available for those who opted for the second screening.
Gilbert Rodriguez is a health educator and HIV tester for Tarzana Treatment Centers.
“The purpose of this is to educate people about HIV and STDs or Hepatitis C,” Rodriguez said.
Before proceeding, each person must sign a consent form. The testing and results are anonymous; the only information asked for the data entry sheet is the city of residence and birth date.
For people with a phobia of needles, the test is quick and relatively painless. A needle prick is administered on the pad of one finger on the non-writing hand, and results can be returned as soon as one minute if someone is HIV positive. For most, the test is completed in fewer than five minutes.
After receiving the needle poke, the blood is collected with a circular stick and dropped into a small, fluid-filled vial. The HIV and Hepatitis C testers, which tests for antibodies, seemed to resemble a home pregnancy test— sorry, men.
Knowing how HIV can be contracted is an important step in learning how to reduce the risk, also known as harm reduction.
“HIV is spread through five body fluids—cum, pre-cum, blood (which is the most dangerous and universal), vaginal secretions and breast milk,” Rodriguez said. “Those body fluids need to go inside of you or inside of another human without touching the air.”
Although HIV is contagious, the virus is difficult to transfer through piercings.
“It’s very hard to catch [HIV] through piercings,” Rodriguez said, “because if blood was to be on the needle, the virus would already be dead. If the needle had a barrel, you could get [HIV], because there’s no air inside the barrel. The reason we test for Hepatitis C is [that] you have a higher risk of getting Hepatitis C through piercings, tattoos, and possibly fights.”
If a person who comes in has a positive test, then a confirmatory blood draw would be taken, and he or she would be referred to a doctor if needed.
Twenty people were tested for HIV and six for Hepatitis C on Wednesday. Anyone is eligible for testing with restrictions to those who are under 12 years of age. Women who are expecting can also receive testing.
For more information, contact the Reseda office at 818-342-5897 or visit the main website at www.tarzanatc.org. The mobile testing center will be at Valley again on Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.