The University’s first testing party for sexually transmitted infections will be held at Yale Health next week in an effort to encourage students to take a more active role in maintaining their sexual health. The event, which is organized by Student Wellness and Student Health, will be co-hosted by five campus Greek organizations: fraternities Sigma Chi, Chi Psi and Alpha Epsilon Pi and sororities Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta.
Tracy George, the health educator for Student Wellness, said the party, which will take place on Nov. 3 from 4–7 p.m., will feature music, nonalcoholic drinks and snacks to create a safe, comfortable and fun atmosphere for students to gather in. Yale Health clinicians will be present to answer questions and provide students with confidential consultations, and the Yale Health laboratory will be open past normal business hours in order to accommodate students with busy schedules, George added. The event will be held in partnership with Sex and Sexuality Week 2015 — a student-run campaign which seeks to promote a safe and inclusive space for many kinds of intimacy and relationships on campus — although George said Student Wellness hopes to host similar events on a regular basis over the coming months.
“Moving forward, [Student Wellness and Student Health] plans on hosting two STI testing parties per semester,” George said in a Tuesday email to the News. “We are holding only one this semester because it is a new program we just developed at the beginning of this semester.”
George added that the student groups’ engagement in sexual health efforts on campus was critically important to increasing turnout at events and generally reaching as many students as possible.
Members of the five Greek organizations co-hosting the inaugural party interviewed expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity.
Katherine Fang ’17, the director of Sex and Sexuality Week 2015, said the event aims to bring about change in sexual health culture on campus.
“By organizing these parties, we hope to empower a testing culture,” Fang said. “Because clinicians will be on hand to provide testing on the spot instead of testing by appointment, the party will also be convenient for students.”
Fang added that having testing available is important because of the high proportion of sexually active Yale students who do not undergo frequent tests for sexually transmitted infections, even though Yale Health offers free STI testing to all students.
Fang cited the results of a January 2015 survey carried out by the News, which found that 29 percent of sexually active respondents had never been tested for STIs, and that 39 percent had not been tested in the past six months.
Joshua El-Bey ’16, vice president of Sigma Chi, said his fraternity wanted to support healthy life choices in the broader Yale community, both specific to next week’s party and in the future. Jessica Leao ’16, chief executive officer of Kappa Alpha Theta, said the communal nature of the party would make it more effective.
George said the STI testing parties will be more comprehensive in the testing possibilities it offers students than previous Student Wellness campaigns.
“Past events on Cross Campus have focused on awareness, but testing was not done on-site,” she said. “Rather, we have given out lab slips to students to take to the lab and receive STI testing, though we found follow-up to be minimal. [The format of the STI testing parties] allows us to combine on-site testing, awareness and education in one place and time.”
In addition to hosting these parties twice per semester, Student Wellness plans to expand sexual health education out on campus by offering a regular series of educational workshops.