Free STD testing services to begin next week, officials say


by Randy Paulson, Senior Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Starting later this month, a nonprofit community health care provider will begin offering free sexually transmitted disease tests for Simpson students at the Warren County Public Health offices.

Free STD testing has long been a goal of Simpson’s Pre-Health Society, which collaborated with Primary Health Care of Des Moines and Warren County Public Health Services to make it a reality.

“We reached out to a number of organizations,” said senior Blake Brown, who is part of the Pre-Health Society. “We finally came to Primary Health Care of Des Moines, specifically The Project.”

The Project is the division of Primary Health Care that does community outreach to the homeless population in Des Moines, as well as other low-income communities, Brown said. Since Primary Health Care is funded by a state grant, their services are free to recipients.

To start out, Brown said Primary Health Care will use the Warren County Public Health facilities every third Monday of the month from 2-5 p.m. starting Sept. 18.

The STD tests it will offer are for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV, which Brown said “are the main STDs afflicting major populations.”

“If the need is there, they are more than willing to increase the amount of times and increase the timeframe for which they come,” Brown said.

Based on results from a survey it sent out in January, the Pre-Health Society found a majority of students would like to see such services available and would also use the services.

“The college-age population is at the highest risk for obtaining STDs,” Brown said. He explained the results from the survey lined up with the national average, meaning one in four Simpson students either has an STD or knows someone who does.

“That’s something no one really likes to talk about, but it’s something that’s present, and I don’t think people should ignore it,” he said.

One of the main obstacles Brown and those he worked with faced was finding health care providers who would be willing to offer both testing and treatment. Although the nurses at Warren County Public Health could administer testing, they would not provide treatment if a student tests positive for an STD.

In that case, the student would need to go to another clinic to get a prescription. The new arrangement allows students to get tested and receive a prescription all in one visit.

“I hope that we’ll make Simpson a safer campus and a healthier campus,” Brown said.