Kent State educates campus on World AIDS Day

Kent State’s LGBTQ Student Center and Equitas Health held a roundtable discussion centered around HIV in the 21st century as part of World AIDS Day on Thursday.

World AIDS Day is a week-long, nationwide event held every Dec. 1 to raise awareness about HIV.
To start off the week, an ‘HIV in context’ presentation was given in the Student Center.
The presentation held on Tuesday took place in the DeWeese Health Center, led by Sierra Baker, health educator in University Health Services. The event focused on the importance and practice of condom usage.
A resource and information table about HIV/AIDS, as well as the importance of being tested, took place Wednesday on the second floor of the Student Center.
“A lot of the HIV/AIDS information is not taught in high schools,” Baker said. “When students come to college, they are unaware of the disease and how to protect themselves from it. World AIDS Day is a great way to bring the awareness idea to light.”
There was also a keynote presentation held from 7 to 8 p.m., entitled “World AIDS Day 2016: Progress Made, Challenges Remain” led by Dianne Kerr, a professor of health sciences, and Kat Holtz, a health educator/HIV specialist from the Portage County Health Department.
“We have developed a lot of complacency around the issue of HIV,” Kerr said. “World AIDS Day gives us the chance to get more people thinking more about the epidemic and why it’s important to get tested.”
The Thursday round-table discussion was titled “HIV in the 21st Century: New Methods in Prevention”
The discussion was presented by the LGBTQ Student Center and lead by Zach Reau, Equitas Health community engagement manager.
“I come from a generation that saw people dying from this (HIV/AIDS) disease,” said Ken Ditlevson, director of the LGBTQ Student Center. “Even though that is not the case anymore, the disease is still ongoing and people should be aware that it is still there.”
Reau focused on topics regarding the effects HIV has on the body, how HIV can be transmitted, new methods in medication and general statistics.
“I’m talking to you because I want you to take this message out and talk to people,” Reau said.
He started off the discussion by asking students in attendance which bodily fluids they thought AIDS can be transmitted through.
Reau also revealed that nobody dies from HIV or AIDS, but rather the opportunistic infections that come with HIV and AIDS.
“The thing about having AIDS is when you get the diagnosis, you never lose it,” he said.
Reau discussed that intravenous drug users are at risk for HIV/AIDS, along with the gay, bisexual and transgender communities.
When he asked the audience, if they thought there was a cure to HIV, the attendees responded with “No.”
Darby McDowell, a sophomore communication studies major, said she that after attending various World AIDS Day events and listening to people’s stories, she then realized how bad HIV/AIDS can be for someone.
“I liked to think I was educated, but after this discussion I realized that there is so much that I don’t know,” McDowell said.
Free confidential HIV testing will be hosted again on Monday at the DeWeese Health Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Testing is by appointment only.
Nicole Zahn is a recreational and wellness reporter and Emily Fulmer is a religion reporter.