Inexpensive HIV tests offered to CMC students

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— Fifteen dollars can get you into two movies, buy you and a pal lunch and for a short time, get you -- if you're a college student -- an HIV test.

Colorado Mountain College and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains are teaming up to offer CMC students reduced-price HIV tests for a limited time.

"It's just to get people aware they should get an HIV test, especially at their age," CMC residence advisor and HIV testing coordinator Trisha Merriman said. "We want to make people aware of the safety aspects of sex."

Merriman approached Planned Parenthood with the idea of offering a lower cost test and said the organization was extremely receptive.

"There is a definitely a need for testing at other sites," Planned Parenthood Manager Amy Dickson said.

The test is open to the first 20 students and, if more than that come for the test, some sort of special deal will be offered, such as a two-for-one deal, Merriman said.

The key to offering the testing was the price. The normal $41 charge for HIV testing at Planned Parenthood was cost-prohibitive for many college students, Merriman said.

"I thought any more than $15 sounded like a lot," she said. "I wanted to get it down."

Dickson said that all the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain centers have the same price and it is less expensive than many other places. The price is high because they have to send the test away.

Merriman based the $15.50 price on a maximum of 20 students getting tested. She approached the CMC student government and the Residence Hall Association, each of which contributed $170 and $200, respectively. Planned Parenthood is contributing $98.

The test will be offered during specific times over the next three weeks.

The test offered will be oral. The oral test takes about 15 or 20 minutes and is just as accurate as a blood test, Dickson said. She said that if someone does want a blood test, it can be given, although it may cost a bit more.

The test is confidential and does not go on a permanent medical record, Dickson said. Counseling will also be offered, she said.

Merriman hopes that the testing with Planned Parenthood continues as an annual program, and Dickson said it is going to continue to work on reduced-price HIV testing.

She said she hopes this program will help people think about their behavior. Currently, the number of HIV cases being diagnosed each year is on the rise among women and heterosexuals, she noted.

"Not everyone is testing that needs to be," she said.

Call Merriman at 871-2051 or Planned Parenthood at 879-2212 with questions.


Colorado Mountain College and Planned Parenthood are offering HIV testing to the first 20 CMC students at the Student Health Services Facility in Willett Hall. The reduced cost is $15.50. The test will be offered on:


* Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. .
* April 12 from 11 a.m. to noon
* April 20 from 2 to 3 p.m.

-- To reach Jennifer Bartlett call 871-4204 or e-mail jbartlett@amigo.net

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