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Illustration: Jennifer Vo.

Free STI testing on campus seeks to break world record

The University of Ottawa wants to make sure midterms aren’t the only tests on students’ minds this semester with the Pee to See Challenge.

The U of O will be competing against Carleton University, Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale to see which academic institution can get the most participants tested for gonorrhoea and chlamydia in a single day.

The World Record Pee Challenge will take place on March 29, and the U of O will be looking to take home the gold.

The University of Calgary currently holds the official record with 502 tests, said Christiane Bouchard, project officer with Ottawa Public Health’s Healthy Sexuality and Risk Reduction Unit. According to Boucher, there is an unofficial record recently set by Western University with 813 tests—however, they didn’t register with the official Guinness World Records.

“Really the challenge is an excuse to raise awareness around the rates of gonorrhoea and chlamydia,” said Bouchard. In the last 10 years, the rates of both infections have increased drastically in people ages 15 to 29 and 77 per cent of all cases in Ottawa are within that age group, she said.

“What we’re really trying to tell people is, you know, this is out there, you can catch it easily—you don’t necessarily know you have it because there’s no symptoms. It’s easily detectable, you know, it’s just a urine test really,” said Bouchard. “Treatment is easy and it’s effective so there’s no reason not to get tested, right?”

Ottawa Public Health is partnering with the university’s Health Services and the Health Promotion Team to provide on-campus testing, which will be carried out by Ottawa Public Health’s staff.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Tabaret Hall’s Rotunda on Tuesday, March 29. Free, confidential testing is open to all—not just students—and does not require an OHIP card, making it accessible to students who are Quebec residents or from out-of-province.

All services, including treatment for those who test positive, is free of charge. On the day participants simply have to show up, fill out a consent form, provide some basic information and pee in a cup. Anyone showing symptoms will be streamlined to Health Services to be treated immediately, said Bouchard.

“It’s fairly straight forward, you know? No news is good news, and treatment is free so that’s important to note,” she said.

Bouchard said the results will be available within two to three weeks and only those with positive results will be contacted. Those using email as their point of contact will receive an email asking them to contact the public health team, who will discuss the results by phone as no results will be given over email.

She says because both gonorrhoea and chlamydia often have no symptoms, so those who are infected may be unknowingly spreading it, and if untreated both infections can have long-term complications.

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia are sexually transmitted infections (STIs) caused by types of bacteria. While both infections often have no symptoms, burning during urination can be a sign for men.

For those who aren’t able to attend the world record pee challenge, anyone can download a requisition form here, and go to any lab in Ottawa to get tested for free, without having to go to a clinic.