Student Health Services and Positive Directions recognize World Aids Day with free STI testing


Sean Marty / The Sunflower

The Student Wellness Center is located at the Steve Clark YMCA.

On the 33rd anniversary of World Aids Day, the Student Wellness Center hosted Positive Directions, offering students free testing for HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, and Hepatitis. Later on in the day, the widely known event “Pee for Pizza” was held, testing for other STIs — an event that is recognized by many colleges across the country. 

Positive Directions is a local non-profit organization that is located in downtown Wichita, focused on the “prevention, education, and testing for the most at-risk individuals.” 

They have been working hard in the local Wichita community to educate members about the harms of different sexually transmitted diseases, allowing for a more positive and honest conversation to dispel fear. 

Brett Hogan, executive director of Positive Directions, described the history of World AIDS day.  He said that Positive Directions wants to create a positive image for a topic that has caused harm for so many people.

“It is acknowledged throughout the world as a remembrance of the past and the progress we have made,” Hogan said.  “In the past we have done everything such as educational events, movies, big events. All kinds of stuff to mark the day of.

“It’s a rapid one minute test, in the past we have done a lot of other things…but really what it is, to get tested, it is literally a finger poke.”

The newer testing procedures have reduced testing time significantly, leaving less room for anxiety waiting for results.  This advanced technology, along with many other facets, is part of the celebration of World AIDS Day.

“Within one minute we can give you the results,” Hogan said.  “The old one was you would wait a month and it could take a couple weeks before you get your results, we’re looking into a month or two months before you know, and that is pretty stressful.”

Hogan said that Positive Directions is not focused simply on testing, but giving care to those that are in need. 

“If they test positive, or anything we test for we do linkage to care,” Hogan said.  “There is a whole system to take care of individuals. It’s not just, ‘Here is your result, now go deal with it.’ Here is the result: now this is what we need to do.” 

The main goal of Positive Directions is to create a support group for those that have struggled or known someone who has struggled with HIV/AIDS. 

“We’re still here,” Hogan said.  We remember those that have passed, we acknowledge those that have fought for us. Really bring everybody within that system and the world of HIV/AIDS together.”

Heather Stafford, Director of Student Health Services, said the event has been happening for 20 years, through Student Health Services and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and encouraged students to get tested.

“As the student medical clinic on-campus, we are college health specialists that also work as a campus public health service by providing sexual health education and access to free STI testing through hosted events,”  Stafford said.