Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that nearly 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and Atlanta is ranked fifth in the nation for estimated cases of AIDS. To expand prevention efforts, the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the CDC, established the High-Impact HIV Prevention Program (HIPP), a five-year grant program that includes outreach to campus populations.
In 2016, Oglethorpe’s Campus Life Health Committee partnered with the DeKalb County Board of Health to form a collegiate partnership program to benefit both Oglethorpe and the greater community. The program offers free contraceptives and free HIV/AIDS testing to anyone in the community, both on-campus and off, two times each semester. In exchange for the program’s services, Oglethorpe helps to promote the partnership.The partnership has proven to be a success, providing confidential services and recommendations, counseling on-the-spot, as well as informal, general counseling information. With four testings complete thus far and birth control distribution in areas where it could be easily accessed without being obtrusive, the program has increased Oglethorpe’s ability to provide important direct health services to its students and has given the campus an opportunity to provide a service to the community.
Rebecca Stewart, assistant director of student engagement and leadership, and Cody Teague, assistant director of residence life, lead the partnership program and the Campus Life Health Committee, which has made other efforts to ensure the student body’s well-being. Educational materials are distributed in residence halls, Resident Assistants teach programs about sexual and general health, and an initiative is underway to secure additional health programs and panels on campus.
The Committee also has collaborated with the Student Government Association to get specific feedback, leading to other efforts, including expanding first-aid items available in the residence halls.
“Now in the ‘duty box’, where a staff member is located from 9 to 11 every evening, there’s ibuprofen, Benadryl, Band-aids, and other supplies, so it’s readily accessible to students,” said Rebecca. “Our top priority is the well-being and safety of our students and making sure they know about all the resources and programs available to them.”