HIV testing

Locations for HIV testing in Boulder County include:

 

Boulder County HIV/STI Outreach program

Cost: $38 sliding scale

3450 Broadway, Boulder

For an appointment: 303-413-7500

 

Boulder County AIDS Project

Cost: Free

2118 14th St., Boulder

For an appointment: 303-444-6121

 

Planned Parenthood

Cost: $72

2525 Arapahoe Suite C-200

For an appointment: 303-447-1040

 

Wardenburg Health Center

Cost: Free under university health insurance plans

1900 Wardenburg Drive, Boulder campus

For an appointment: 303-492-5432

 

Women's Health Boulder Teen Clinic

Cost: Free to teens only

2855 Valmont Road, Boulder

For an appointment: 303-442-5160

Student leaders at the University of Colorado are lobbying to restore $30,000 in funding to pay for the free and confidential HIV testing that existed on the Boulder campus for more than a decade before funds for the program were reallocated last year.

CU Student Government representatives said they hope to pass a resolution in the coming weeks advocating for the program's return, and also are working to identify campus funding to reinstate the program.

Colin Wichman, a CU Student Government representative-at-large who co-authored the resolution, said the majority of students he's talked to about the proposal are supportive.

"It's creating that safe culture and that destigmatizing culture around being tested and knowing your status, so that way students are proud to know their status or proud to know how they can engage in safer activities," said Wichman, a sophomore studying communication and political science.

The free testing had been offered several times a week at various locations around campus for at least the last 12 years — until funds were re-allocated at the end of the spring semester last year, said Lee Scriggins, a strategist with CU's Community Health.

Last year, Community Health officials had to make a choice between funding the HIV testing program or paying for alcohol and drug prevention education and policy planning, Scriggins said.

"It's a high-prevalence, high-impact issue that our public health program had not previously addressed directly," Scriggins said of the alcohol and drug program.

Reallocating funding

Community Health, the public health department of CU's Wardenburg Health Center, has a budget of $566,392 this year. While Wardenburg's $13.5 million budget used to be managed by the CU Student Government, the campus took over direction of the center this year after students voted on a constitutional amendment to relinquish control in 2012.

Scriggins said it cost $30,000 annually to run the HIV testing, a figure that includes supplies, training time, staff hours and advertising.

About $24,500 of the funds formerly earmarked for HIV testing were shifted to alcohol and drug prevention efforts.

The remaining $5,500 was absorbed into the budget for the National College Health Assessment survey, which was modified to track alcohol and drug usage more closely, Scriggins said. That research survey tracks data about student health habits, including sexual health, nutrition and exercise, mental health and violence.

In a perfect world, Scriggins said, Community Health would have enough funding to staff both projects. She added that Community Health shares the same values as the CU Student Government resolution's sponsors and authors, but said it's difficult to meet all the needs of the campus with limited funding.

Off-campus testing options

The resolution's authors say that without the discontinued campus testing, free and confidential HIV exams are not easily accessible for students, many of whom don't want to get tested at Wardenburg Health Center for fear that their parents will find out about their sexual behaviors.

The tests at Wardenburg are free under student health plans and most private insurance policies, campus officials said.

The resolution's authors say it's difficult for students to get to off-campus testing sites and many can't afford to pay for HIV testing.

Currently, HIV testing is offered in Boulder County at various locations, including the Boulder County Public Health Department, the Boulder County AIDS Project, Planned Parenthood and the Women's Health Boulder Teen Clinic.

Many of the testing programs are offered for a flat fee or sliding scale.

Freshman Will Fattor, the Arts and Sciences Student Government treasurer, said he's heard from students who wonder about whether they have a sexually transmitted infection, but are too embarrassed to go to the campus health center.

"The free and confidential part is really important," he said. "A lot of students don't want to go to the Boulder hospital or Wardenburg and use their parents' insurance and have their parents find out they got tested. It's really embarrassing for them."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.com.