Groups educate student on AIDS prevention
World AIDS Day has been annually held on Dec. 1 and is used as a global effort to help eradicate the ignorance and stigmas associated with the disease by drumming up public support via information about it, testing and statistics, and shares the stories and memories of those who have been both directly and indirectly affected by it.
Two organizations on campus got together to sponsor ‘Know Your Status’ on Nov. 18 to make students aware of the HIV epidemic and inform them of ways they can protect themselves.
The Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and the Theta Nu Xi multicultural sorority joined the Harris County Hospital District and the NAACP to host the event.
Held in the Cougar Den, students who participated in the event were tested for HIV, given the option to be screened for syphilis and had the opportunity to receive a Gardasil shot, which prevents many forms of human papillomavirus in women. Counseling was provided as well.
‘With so many people living in fear of what they may or may not have, it’s important not just to know their status but to receive care fast. A positive result no longer means automatic death,’ Corey Garret, a member of Houston’s Syphilis Elimination Advisory Committee, said.
According to UNAIDS, a United Nations venture designed to combat the epidemic, ‘It is estimated that in 2007 there were 2 million people under the age of 15 living with HIV, and globally AIDS is the second most common cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds.’
People younger than 25-years-old account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide.
More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since it gained worldwide recognition in 1981.
In addition to HIV testing, students at who participated in ‘Know Your Status’ were also given pamphlets, referrals to local clinics in an attempt to promote testing year round and contraceptives, a tool in the fight against HIV and AIDS. More than one-fourth of Americans who are infected do not know that they are.
There are other groups on campus that will also be sponsoring events, including the Keep A Child Alive foundation and the campus Health Center, which will also administer free HIV testing Tuesday.