Speaking Out

Closing of HIV Testing Site

The Office of Health Education, a division of the Student Health Service, regets to announce that the on-campus anonymous HIV Testing site will cease to offer services after March 28. The decision was made by Hanhemann University Hospital administrators, whose employees have come to the Penn campus every Thursday to provide free and anonymous HIV counseling and testing. Financial constraints--namely, the failure of Federal HIV prevention resources to keep pace with growing national demand--have forced many grant-funded testing programs to curtail services to populations whose rate of HIV infection remains relatively low. Since it began operating in October 1993, the Penn site has yielded a comparatively low rate of HIV-positive test results.

There are currently two other anonymous, free HIV testing sites within walking distance of the Penn campus. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia recently began a testing program focusing on clients in the age range 18-24. Testing is done on a walk-in basis (no appointment needed) every Wednesday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. on the first floor of St. Leonard's Court, 39th and Chestnut Streets. Another testing service is available at The Consortium, 451 University Avenue, across from the Veteran's Administration Hospital (about 3 blocks south of Spruce Street on the left side of 38th Street). Appointments are required at The Consortium, and may be obtained by phoning 596-8000.

The Testing Site staff will continue to provide testing services at Hanhemann's Women's Anonymous Testing Site (1302 Race Street, 1st floor). They can be reached at 246-5210. Referrals to other HIV-related services can be obtained from Penns' Office of Health Education at 573- 3525 (e-mail: she@pobox.upenn.edu).

For those of us whose work is dedicated to education and prevention in the field of sexual health, the loss of the campus HIV Testing Site is an enormous setback. We nonetheless recognize that in the current political climate, major increases in federal funding for HIV prevention and testing are an unlikely prospect, and cutbacks in services are a logical outcome. We wish to extend our thanks to Hanhemann staffpersons Dolores Solivan, Rob McKenna, and Nancy Stanfil, who staffed the Testing Site and provided quality counseling and testing to hundreds of Penn students, staff, and faculty since operations began in 1993. We also wish to thank those members of the Penn community who helped to establish the Testing Site through their work on the University's HIV/AIDS Task Force. In addition, thanks are due specifically to Dr. Vernon Brightman of the Dental School, who generously provided the facility in which the Testing Sitte has operated since it began operations at Penn.

In the meantime, members of the Penn community who are alarmed at the loss of this service are advised to contact their congressional representatives and demand increases in funding for HIV/AIDS-related programs though the Ryan White Care Act, and to vote in the November elections for candidates who support such increases.

--Kurt Conklin, Health Educator,
Student Health Service


March 19, 1996
Volume 42 Number 24

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