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Katherine Gerberich / Katherine Gerberich

As Valentine’s Day approaches and love begins to fill the air, we here at Spectrum want to remind you that your physical, mental, and emotional health comes before anything else. To help you navigate your way through staying safe and feeling strong, we’ve compiled a guide to sexual health resources here at Columbia.

Where can I get access to free safer sex supplies?

According to the Columbia Health website, you can access safer sex supplies (including condoms, lubricant, and dental dams) at the following locations:

Medical Services: John Jay Hall, 4th floor

Sexual Violence Response: Lerner Hall, 7th floor

Alice! Health Promotion: John Jay Hall, 3rd floor

Disability Services: Wien Hall, 1st floor

Undergraduate Student Life: Lerner Hall, 5th floor west

You can also purchase condoms, tampons, emergency contraception pills, and more at the vending machine by the entrance near the public restroom in John Jay Hall.

Primary Care Health Service at Barnard (Brooks Hall, Lower Level) also offers both latex and non-latex condom options.

How can I make sure I didn’t contract an STI?

The Gay Health Advocacy Project offers free HIV testing for everyone at Columbia, including students (and their partners), faculty, and staff—with no appointment needed. Visit the 3rd floor of John Jay Hall any time from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday for drop-in hours (if you’d like to make an appointment by calling 212-854-6655, GHAP office hours are Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). You’ll get your confidential results back the next day with no judgment. GHAP also provides support, resources, and treatment for students who are HIV-positive.

I really want to learn more about sexual health for my own good.

That’s great to hear! Thankfully, there are a variety of steps you can take.

Schedule an appointment with Medical Services online, by phone at 212-854-7426, or in person at the Medical Services office (3rd floor of John Jay Hall) to speak with a provider who can teach you about STI prevention.

While you’re there, visit Alice! Health Promotion (same location: 3rd floor of John Jay Hall) during drop-in hours (3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday) to speak confidentially with staff about any health questions you might have. If you’re the type who likes to meet by appointment, you can call ahead at 212-854-5453 or email alice@columbia.edu to make one.

GHAP (also located on the 3rd floor of John Jay Hall) also offers peer consultations to help you wrap your head around the complexities of HIV and other STIs, including how to prevent and treat them. You can also talk to professional peer advocates about other relationship questions, LGBTQ life, safer sex, and more. According to Columbia Health, all volunteer advocates are HIPAA-certified, and many speak second languages.

Columbia also has a variety of workshops you can request to take, with topics ranging from healthy sexual relationships to prevention of sexual assault and stalking. Well-Woman at Barnard also holds workshops, provides community advocacy, and trains peer educators to promote the well-being of Barnard students. Additionally, Being Barnard not only provides scheduled programs to help students, faculty, and staff become more aware and knowledgeable about sexual violence and prevention methods, but it also allows you to request further programs for student organizations, groups, or residence hall floors if you would like through this link.

What should I do if I need emergency contraception?

Fear not! Medical Services offers Plan B or Ella for Columbia students who have paid the Columbia Health fee at no additional cost. You can drop in any time the office is open or set up an appointment if you would prefer.

Primary Care Health Service at Barnard also has emergency contraception available for students that is free with Aetna Student Health Insurance and costs $15 if you have other insurance coverage. Walk-in hours are 9-11:30 a.m. during all weekdays, except for Thursday, during which walk-in hours are from 9-11 a.m. You can also make an appointment to pick up your emergency contraception if you would like by calling 212-854-2091, going to the office in person, or setting one up online.

How can I get support for sexual violence?

The Sexual Violence Response helpline is available at all hours of the day and all days of the year. Please reach out to them at 212-854-HELP (4357) if you have experienced a traumatizing event. By calling this number, you can also request to have an advocate accompany you to a nearby hospital or police station, as well as request a Survivor Care Package. If you require immediate protection, call 911. Learn more about SVR services here.

How can I get involved in providing support for victims of sexual violence?

You can apply to be a Sexual Violence Response peer advocate or a peer educator volunteer through Columbia Health. Make sure you understand your responsibilities and the eligibility requirements before applying. Although the application for the 2018-19 academic year has closed, you should definitely keep an eye out for new applications for the 2019-20 cycle.

Can I get involved in other ways as well?

Yes! Check out the Columbia Health webpage and Barnard Health Services webpage for more information on how to apply to be a GHAP Advocate, an Alice! Health Promotion peer leader, a Stressbuster, and/or a Well-Woman peer educator, and on how to join the Student Health Advisory Committee.

Spectrum staff writer Caroline Chen can be contacted at caroline.chen@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter at @ColumbiaSpec.

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