Student HIV tester tries to make process less intimidating

Published: Feb. 15, 2013

As a student coordinator and HIV tester for Community Health, Tia Marks acknowledges that the experience of getting tested and talking about transmission of HIV can be tricky, difficult and unusual. Therefore, having trained, state certified peers test CU students makes the conversation about HIV and transmission much more relatable, she says. Student testers understand student life, and the state certification gives them the skills and knowledge to deliver a reliable test.

"When the idea of being an HIV tester was introduced to me, I was definitely intrigued but also intimidated at the idea of conducting and delivering an HIV test while having a conversation about a person’s sexual health and use of barrier methods, at the same time," said Marks.

"I was unsure how this conversation would go, and when training for state certification I became even more intimidated at the idea of being in a room with one other individual talking about sensitive topics. Yet, as time went on, I have become more comfortable and confident in my ability to have a meaningful and valuable conversation with a person about their sexual health and about HIV in general. I love having the opportunity to be able to have these conversations with people. Each conversation is very unique and learning how to respond, help, and make the testing process less intimidating is a step by step process," she said.

Community Health comes from the position that getting tested for HIV or other STI’s is not only an important part of maintaining one’s health, but also helps reduce stigma and can be a very rewarding experience. The testers at Community Health are constantly learning, thinking, and improving ways to successfully reach people from all sectors of the CU-Boulder community.

Community Health offers free and confidential HIV testing for the CU-Boulder community on Mondays in the UMC room 411 from 12:30-2:20 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. in Atlas; and Tuesdays in the UMC room 411 from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. at WillVill in the Darley Commons area.