Testing assured on Valentine’s Day

NASHUA – The Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services is hosting a Valentine’s Day event to ensure people are not sharing anything but love this holiday.

The division’s second Valentine’s Day event returns, and will once again be offering free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and hepatitis C from 10-7 p.m. Thursday at the Community Health Clinic, located at 18 Mulberry St.

Division Director Bobbie Bagley said they want people to share love and not anything else, and aim to reduce stigma about people being able to have frank conversations about prevention efforts, and said this event does just that.

“This allows for us to do this in a way so that it becomes part of our common language, to be very mindful of prevention and that STD, HIV and hepatitis C – it’s out there, but we can prevent it through testing,” Bagley said.

This year, she said officials are also looking to focus on pushing the hepatitis A vaccination because of the recent outbreak. However, the key to this event is really around testing. Bagley said the testing itself takes just about 20 minutes, and while people await their results, staff members will be available to provide them with education. People can also collect information from the resources tables that will be set up. Bagley said from start to finish, people may spend 30 minutes total at the division. Participants can also learn their results then and there.

Program assistant Jessica Ayala said the whole objective is to take away stigma by promoting prevention and awareness.

“As part of this event, we’re really focusing it on making it more of an elegant. It’s Valentine’s Day; let’s think about this,” Ayala said. “We’re going to have our clinic decorated so people feel welcome. It’s really just to make people comfortable and open to talk about the prevention piece and just being aware of it.”

The testing being done is a finger stick, and if results do come back positive, participants will be referred to a provider who performs the type of care a client needs.

The tests are open to anybody who needs them. Those who stop by first will receive $10 gift cards to Dollar Tree, while supplies last. There will also be information distributed, giveaways, snacks and refreshments.

“The funding that we have to do this comes from our state Department of Health and Human Services STD, HIV and hepatitis C program,” Bagley said. “Some city funding is also included to support this activity, and so it’s free to those who come in.”

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