Pre-Health Society hopes to bring free STD testing to campus

by Zoe Seiler, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College’s Pre-Health Society is working with Warren County Public Health Services to offer free STD testing to Simpson students.

The Pre-Health Society surveyed students by email Jan. 17 to gauge student interest in free STD testing.

“We found there is definitely a need on Simpson’s campus for this service,” junior Blake Brown said. “About one in four students has contracted an STD, which is right on par with national averages. Ninety-six percent of students believed this was something we should have and would be a good service provided for Simpson students. Forty percent had been tested in the past. Eighty-eight percent would use the service if it was provided and they were concerned.”

Brown and a committee of students and faculty are pushing to provide these services because students do not have easy access to free sexual health services.

“It’s not always the easiest for students to both pay for and have access for testing. Larger universities have medical clinics on their campus so they have easy access. Some of them have free access as well right on their campus. They might have discounted access. If they don’t have access to either of those usually they are in a big city so they have access to nearby testing options,” Brown said.

“There are other smaller schools that are about our size, maybe 400 students more, and they also have some sort of clinic, whether it be a clinic or an emergency medical service they have,” junior Matt Hayden said. “There are definitely campuses our size that have a facility. We’re at a disadvantage if we don’t have that.”

Simpson students have to go to UnityPoint Clinic in Indianola or go to Des Moines if they need to be tested or receive other services.

“The Indianola clinic raises the issue of students not having health insurance or being on their parents’ health insurance and them possibly not wanting their parents to know they are getting tested, so that may stop them from getting tested. So Simpson is significantly disadvantaged in that aspect,” Brown said.

The Pre-Health Society has been working with Warren County Public Health Services to figure out the logistics of providing sexual health services, especially because Simpson only has one part-time nurse on campus.

“They’re hoping to work with us to find a solution, whether it be Planned Parenthood conducting the testing or the nurses with Warren County public health,” Brown said. “They are on board with us using their facilities, which is convenient for us with their location directly across the street from Carver Science Center, so it’s very close to campus. Their services would be in conjunction with student health services on campus so Katie Lee would also work them as well.”

The goal is to provide free, easily accessible STD testing for students close to campus. The Pre-Health Society is working out the logistics of the services. The goal is to start offering the testing in the fall.