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Clemson sees increase in HIV cases, seeks to provide free condoms in dorms

Students may be able to get free condoms in their dorm, after a CUSG senate meeting reported an increase in HIV positive Clemson students. 

Dr. George Clay, Director of Student Health Services, said the clinic heard about the uptick over the summer, which involved a cluster of positive cases tested in the spring. 

“We do about 1,000 tests a year, and for years, the numbers have been low. One a year is noticeable for us,” said Clay, “Usually we don’t have any positive cases. But Clemson students don’t just hang out with Clemson students.”

The clinic reported nine known cases as of last spring, and Clay said that as far as Redfern knows, the cluster has been contained.  

CUSG Health and Human Services Chairwoman Jessica Schnorr said that although the increase is worrisome, the real threat to students is chlamydia and gonorrhea. Last spring, there were 394 positive lab tests for chlamydia and there were three positive lab tests for gonorrhea, a positive rate of less than 1 percent.

“So the biggest messages here is that although there has been an increase in HIV patient, that’s not the greatest risk to students,” said Schnorr. “In oral, anal and in vaginal, HIV is a new thing that we are dealing with.”

According to, South Carolina’s initiatives aimed at decreasing the number of HIV/AIDs cases in the state are most above average. South Carolina is above the national goal in increasing HIV linkage and retention to care. It has also decreased the number of late stage diagnoses and decreased the HIV death rate in the state by almost 25%.

The National College Health Assessment has confirmed a decrease in condom use over the past six years, with only 53 percent of Clemson students confirming protective barrier use over the past 30 days during oral, vaginal or anal sex.

As a response, CUSG is supporting an initiative by Healthy Campus and Housing to start supplying free condoms in dorms. AID Upstate, a nonprofit organization that contracts with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), supplies the free condoms for Clemson. 

Schnorr said that in order to start the condom initiative in the dorms, they first have to get numbers on how many condoms the university needs. 

“We have the resources to do this. AID Upstate is sending us upwards of 10,000-15,000 condoms and we are going through those in three months…Housing is working on a way to create a sustainable program where we would never have an empty condom bowl,” said Schnorr, “CUSG wants to support it.”

AID Upstate also provides free anonymous screenings for Clemson students twice a month. The organization provides HIV screenings, as well as screenings for other STD/STIs. 

Students can also get tested for HIV at Redfern for a small fee of $10.

Clay said AID Upstate is “anxious to disperse more condoms on Clemson’s campus,” and that “there shouldn’t be a problem getting condoms in residence halls, but they have to learn how to manage it.”

Manage it as in making sure students don’t take advantage and seize the entire bowl. If students feel the need to get tested through AID Upstate, they should call 864-656-5002. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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