GHAP/Gay Health Advocacy Project

A group of concerned students and medical staff at Columbia University organized the Gay Health Advocacy Project in 1985 to address the health-related needs of gay men affected by the emerging HIV epidemic. Through the efforts of those original GHAP Advocates, Columbia became the first institution of higher education in the world to offer HIV antibody testing to its students, faculty, staff, and community. More than 1,000 people of all genders and orientations are tested per year.

From its inception, GHAP has recognized the connections among physical health and social or psychological well-being. In addition to developing an intensive training program for the volunteer Advocates who carry out pre- and post-HIV antibody test counseling, GHAP has sponsored support groups, conferences, a mentoring program, educational talks, and workshops for the Columbia community.




What is the difference between STI testing at Medical Services and HIV testing at GHAP? Can they both administer the tests?

HIV testing and counseling are performed by counselors through GHAP. You will be provided information specific to HIV/AIDS, how testing is done, and safe sex practices. You will also be given the opportunity to ask questions. STI testing is performed by a medical provider at Medical Services. Common STI tests include Syphillis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

What should I expect at my HIV test during walk-in hours with GHAP?

You will sign in at the Broadway Practice Group reception desk during walk-in hours, and have a seat in the waiting area.  A GHAP Advocate will call your name and take you to a private room, where they will review details of the testing and results procedure with you.  Before heading to the laboratory for collection of a blood specimen for testing, you will have an opportunity to think through your level of risk with the Advocate, ask questions about the transmission, treatment and prevention of HIV and other STIs, and share whatever might be on your mind in a supportive, non-judgmental space.  Your Advocate can help you schedule appointments for other STI testing at Medical Services and for counseling at CPS.  Everything discussed in the session is strictly confidential, and the session can be as long or as brief as you’d like.  Most people find it helpful to speak openly to someone when getting tested.

Can I get tested for more than HIV at GHAP?

GHAP offers HIV-antibody testing to everyone at Columbia, free of charge.  We are also able to offer men who have sex with other men (who have the student health insurance through Aetna) a syphilis test.  Both tests can be performed on blood specimens collected by a single needle prick after your visit with GHAP.  Your Advocate can discuss what other STI tests and vaccines are available to you at Columbia Health, and can help you schedule an appointment with a medical provider for these services.

What if I test positive for HIV?

There is highly effective and accessible treatment for people living with HIV. A combination of antiviral drugs dramatically reduces the risk of serious illness for infected people. As treatment continues to improve, keeping up to date with the latest scientific developments becomes increasingly important.

  • If you test positive at Columbia or if you have previously tested positive, Columbia Health is available to provide comprehensive care and support.
  • If you have any questions about the testing procedure, HIV, or other related issues, contact us.
  • If there is an HIV-related emergency (if you strongly believe you have been exposed to HIV), please contact GHAP or  Medical Services.
  • If there is an urgent health concern after hours, please contact the clinician-on-call.
What should I expect at my session with a tobacco cessation specialist?

At an initial tobacco cessation session, your counselor will talk with you about your goals, the history of your tobacco use as well as previous efforts at quitting.  You will come up with a flexible plan that will include support from the counselor as well as nicotine replacements or other medical support, if you choose so.

How many times can I attend a tobacco cessation session at Columbia Health? Is there a limit?

There is no set limit to the number of tobacco cessation sessions available to you at Columbia Health.  Many cessation clients meet with the counselor regularly (every week or every other week) during the first month or two of their quit.

Last updated January 06, 2017