Campus / News / April 20, 2011

Vending pregnancy tests

With all the additions and changes going on in the basement of Seymour Union lately, the Student Health Advocacy Group (SHAG) wants to add one more: pregnancy tests.

“Going to the store is kind of an embarrassing thing,” senior and SHAG co-president Gabe Paz said. “It’s just something quick … and discreet for students to use.”

The plan currently being developed by SHAG and the Campus Life Office is to place the tests in the defunct tampon machine currently located in the women’s restroom across from the Taylor Student Lounge.

“The long-term goal is to try and remove the stigma of getting tested,” Paz said. “Not just for pregnancy, but STDs and health in general.”

With the project just beginning, SHAG is starting small with cautious optimism.

“We’re going to start with a batch of 25 [pregnancy tests],” co-president Ari Timko said. “We have to charge $0.25, because that’s just how the machine works. That will help subsidize the cost, but won’t cover it at all.”

Efforts are currently under way to figure out how to access the existing tampon machine.

“What I’m doing right now is seeing if I can find the keys to the old machine,” Associate Dean of Students Craig Southern said.

The idea to place pregnancy tests in the restroom came out of discussions between SHAG members during fall term.

“People were talking about how you can get condoms but not pregnancy tests at the [Outpost Convenience Store],” Timko said. “And would you want to buy a test from a student worker who knows your name?”

Restroom vending was seen as the best option for meeting students’ needs.

“You can get tested at the health center, but they’re not open all the time,” Timko said, “so we were trying to find a way to make them more available. We considered making it a part of the Condom Hotline, but the general consensus is that you would want a test right away.”

Best known for sexual health and prevention services, the co-presidents of SHAG see this new effort helping their mission towards overall student health.

“It definitely falls under SHAG’s overriding mission to make sure health care is available to students and providing health information,” Timko said.

Several obstacles, such as student interest and whether or not the tests will fit the machine, still lie in the way to full implementation of the plan. But SHAG is committed to the cause of student health and expanding the offerings on the Knox campus.

“This is the easiest and most accommodating way it could be done,” Paz said.

Andrew Polk

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