Health Center spreads awareness of HIV/AIDS in African-Americans


Senior health car administration major Eriane Matthews hands AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator a packet at the HIV/AIDS Awareness event, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Numerous pamphlets line the event table intended to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS in the black community.

Michael Lopick

In America, 50 percent of people who test positive for HIV/AIDS are African-American.

The DeWeese Health Center, in partnership with Black United Students, promoted HIV/AIDS awareness in the African-American campus community Thursday in an effort to begin to lowering the statistic.

Eriane Matthews, senior health promotion major and intern for the DeWeese Health Center, organized an awareness booth on the second floor of the Student Center to get the word out about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.

“Today is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, and we are trying to get the black community to realize what is going on,” she said.

Matthews’ table hosted a spread of brochures, flyers and other items, all with information on how HIV/AIDS is spread and how students can protect themselves from it.

Some African-American students who stopped by the table were surprised to learn how many were affected by the disease.

Kaishawn Thomas, a sophomore theatre studies major, had never considered the threat of HIV/AIDS and was stunned by the thought of it affecting her life.

“I never really thought I would have to deal with something like that,” she said. “I’m safe and make sure my partners are too, but I guess you wouldn’t know. You can’t just look at someone and immediately know that they have HIV.”

Along with the informational material, Matthews handed out “hook-up kits” complete with condoms, a step-by-step guide on how to create a dental dam and upcoming dates for free confidential HIV testing at the health center.

She hopes to have more students sign up for testing this year.

“My goal is to try to get everybody signed up for HIV awareness,” she said.

“We have numerous dates for free HIV testing at the Deweese Health Center. I hope to double the amount of people who got tested from last year. I understand they had between 15 to 20 sign up for test. I would like about 40 to 50. I’m here today to get students motivated to signed up.”

Dwain Ross, junior communications studies major and Black United Students officer, also was present at the table. He said he volunteered because he believes that African-American students should try to educate themselves on such an important topic.

“Having black awareness of HIV/AIDS is very important because I know it’s a big epidemic in the black community,” he said. “It’s a hot topic right now. Anything I can do to help and spread information was natural for me to do.”

HIV/AIDS can be spread four ways: sex, sharing needles during drug use, mother to fetus or blood-to-blood contact.

Matthews focused mainly on sex and how practicing safe sex can help decrease the chances of contracting the disease while promoting the National Black HIV Awareness Organization’s four goals for students.

“The National Black HIV Awareness Day Organization has four main focal points,” she said. “They are get tested, get involved, get treated and get educated. Those are the main points that we are trying to express here today.”

Throughout the rest of the semester, the DeWeese Health Center will provide confidential HIV testing. More information is available on

Contact Michael Lopick at [email protected].