Area college health centers lose free STD testing

Four college health centers in the District have lost free sexually transmitted disease testing, due to a shifting of resources by the D.C. Department of Health.

Student health service centers at American University, Howard University, Trinity College and the University of the District of Columbia will no longer receive free testing kits.

DOH spokeswoman Dena Iverson said the testing budget wasn’t cut, but testing resources were moved around following an evaluation of where STD cases are identified in the District.

“The testing resources were shifted to the locations where the need for additional testing was greatest, due to high rates of STDs, including high schools,” Iverson said .

Iverson said GW is not affected by the budget shift.

Dan Bruey, director of American University’s Student Health Center, said free STD testing for all STDs including gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV stopped at the end of last semester.

Tests had been offered to students free of charge for several years, Bruey said, but any remaining tests were picked up by DOH in December.

Other testing sites not affiliated with universities were also affected by the rearrangement of resources, Iverson said.

GW’s Student Health Service still receives some assistance from the DOH when testing for HIV.

Susan Haney, associate director of SHS, said GW has no reason to think there will be a change in services.

“The D.C. Department of Health gives free rapid HIV testing kits to [SHS],” Haney said. “The program has been in place for about 4 years and all clinicians are trained to do the testing.”

SHS offers free HIV screenings every semester and urges students to get tested, Haney said.

“We average doing about 500 HIV tests each year,” Haney said. “Additionally, about another 1,000 STD tests are done through the lab annually.”

Students are charged for an office visit while undergoing a test at SHS if they are not covered under GW’s Aetna Student Health Insurance, but aren’t charged for the test itself, Haney said.

If a GW student needs a test for chlamydia or gonorrhea, the tests will cost $60.

Tests for other STDs such as syphilis and herpes are outsourced at a lab and cost at least $20, Haney said.

“Students are advised as to which test they should have and when it should be done during a visit with the clinician,” Haney said.

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