A record number of students sought STI testing during the Justice Resource Institute (JRI)’s annual visit to Framingham State on April 18 and 25.
Ilene Hofrenning, director of the Health Center, said this year, with a total of 65 students seeking testing, she saw “the most people ever take advantage of the service.”
JRI, a nonprofit organization focused on public health, comes to FSU every spring to provide free STI screenings and testing.
Like the Health Center, JRI provides testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, the most common STIs. It also provides testing for syphilis, hepatitis C, HPV and HIV.
This initiative is part of a program called RISE, which “offers a variety of preventive, counseling, testing, case management and group support services for individuals affected and living with HIV/AIDS,” according to the JRI website.
The program is funded through grants and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Both Hofrenning and representatives from JRI said FSU students cited a March article in The Gatepost about rising chlamydia rates on campus as the reason they wanted to get tested.
According to Hofrenning, students had a choice in which tests they wanted performed.
Hofrenning said while she expected many students to seek testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea, she did not expect so few students to seek testing for HIV. She attributed this to changing attitudes about HIV.
“Back when HIV first appeared, it was a death sentence,” Hofrenning said. “This generation just does not see that. It’s a chronic disease. People get it. They can get medication – they’ll have to take medication for the rest of their lives – but they can live normal lives.”
Hofrenning said the Health Center might partner with JRI next year to provide doses of pre-exposure prophylaxis – otherwise known as PrEP – to students most at risk for contracting HIV.
PrEP is a pill that works to protect against HIV infection.
Hofrenning also stressed the importance of contraceptives and supported SGA distributing Ram-themed condoms.