Groups to provide free STD testing on Saturday

NASHUA – In time for Valentine’s Day, the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services will be offering free, confidential Hepatitis C and HIV testing on Saturday.

The testing will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 18 Mulberry St. The groups are promoting the event as “Don’t give your Valentine anything but love,” and allows people to know their status and combat the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

“We’re trying to put this community event on to better serve the community. Basically, we want to target the high-risk population,” said Public Health Nurse Manager Jackie Aguilar.

Among the high-risk population their looking to extend their reach to, include drug users who inject, black and hispanic women, homosexual men and anyone who may come in contact with someone or a partner who’s exposed to HIV or is positive for Hepatitis C, officials said. However, anyone can get tested during the event.

Although the groups do a similar event every year on June 27, they wanted to put something together pre-Valentine’s Day. The test is brief, and while people wait for their results, they can enjoy a free hot dog, raffles, watch videos on Hepatitis C and HIV and receive a gift bag with condoms.

“The results are available in 20 minutes,” Public Health Nurse Theresa Calope said, adding that, “If they test positive for anything, we can do blood tests and go over whether they use or don’t use and provide them with syringe services, as well, but we’ll have to do it accordingly to the map.”

The newly launched Syringe Service Alliance of the Nashua Area is unable to operate within 1,000 feet of a school or directly adjacent to a school bus, but they can work with people to set up a discrete meeting location to provide services.

“This event is an opportunity with Valentine’s Day, because people will think more about their partner and helping to protect them and themselves. It’s more of a think-before-you-do,” said Public Health Nurse/STD Program Coordinator Christine Paulik.

Aside from Saturday’s unique event, they also host a STD clinic every Thursday from 3-6 p.m., but this event also acts as a way to make people aware the services they offer.

“The more you test, the more you get to know, and the more surveillance we conduct, the more information we have,” Aguilar said.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.