The Well modifies Get Yourself Tested program

After two years of offering reduced-cost STI testing for all students through the Get Yourself Tested Program, the Well for Health Promotion has discontinued the program until November, when it will pilot with changes.

According to the American Sexual Health Association, one in two sexually active people will contract a sexually transmitted infection by age 25, yet only 12 percent of young people ages 15-24 have been tested in the last year.

The GYT program, which offers free or reduced-cost testing for HIV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, became widely popular on campus, with the waitlist being months long to get an appointment.

Many students are excited to see the program return next semester.

“I think that too often people make excuses for not getting tested, so by eliminating the economic factor, more people are encouraged to go get tested,” freshman Danielle Berman said.

Despite its popularity, program coordinators received complaints about access from students and parents and realized it was not being used as effectively as possible. Beginning with a pilot program this November, the GYT program will undergo changes to personnel and payment.

The main difference will be the shift from a Tulane University Peer Health Educator-led screening process to a professional nurse-run clinic. This change will allow for problems to be more accurately and professionally dealt with to ensure every student is receiving exactly what they need.

Eva Dils, Undergraduate Student Government director of student health and wellness, said when issues like disclosure of a sexual assault or someone already displaying symptoms comes up, they need to be dealt with professionally. 

“[TUPHE members are] not trained healthcare professionals, so they’re not able to deal with those and address those issues as promptly as a healthcare professional, like a nurse, would,” Dils said. 

Additionally, there will be some changes as to what components of the program will be offered for free. Tulane has now become a HIPAA-covered entity, which entails new privacy rules such as campus health officials needing to re-evaluate how to accommodate those rules while offering a similar service. Nurses will determine which services will be provided and the costs in nurse-conducted interviews aimed to assess what a given patient is in need of.

Scott Tims, assistant vice president of Campus Health, brought this program to Tulane six years ago and remains firm on the mission of the program.

“We wanted students to be able to access a program and be able to get tested without fear, get answers and education,” Tims said. “The program has been very successful, and we’re glad to be able to offer it, and we’re excited that it will relaunch soon.”

Both Dils and Tims emphasized a few key components of the program such as the purpose being only for screening. For someone who is already displaying symptoms, the person will be referred to a provider. Paid STI tests are always available through the Health Center, so immediate appointments are possible.

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