Campus observes global and local issues for World AIDS Day

Student groups and University Health Services combine efforts

To increase awareness of AIDS as a serious international and local issue, several campus organizations came together to create programming for World AIDS Day, observed Wednesday.

Scott Dotterer, coordinator in the Office of Health Promotion, said 40,000 Americans contract HIV every year. That’s nearly double the student population of Kent State’s main campus.

Of the more than one million Americans currently living with HIV, Dotterer said one-fourth of them don’t even know they have it.

“I think certainly students know HIV and AIDS have been around for a long time,” Dotterer said. “But again, its one of those things where it’s very important to not become complacent.”

Dotterer said World AIDS Day was established about 22 years ago and has become a great opportunity to encourage awareness and focus on the AIDS pandemic.

Both University Health Services and FACE AIDS will be available to help students learn more about the global and local issues related to AIDS.

Health Services initiatives

Dr. Dianne Kerr from the office of Health Education and Promotion will speak on the global implications of AIDS. Her presentation, called “Stop AIDS Keep the Promise,” begins at 7 p.m. in the Kiva.

With a focus on making antiretroviral medication universal to HIV and AIDS patients, Kerr said she hopes her presentation will educate those in attendance.

“I want people to get more involved,” she said. “Even just trying to educate friends and family because AIDS is not over.”

For resources on all facets of HIV and AIDS, students can visit information tables today from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Student Center. The sponsoring groups will provide information about the disease and materials for prevention.

Freshman pre-nursing major Annie Shimko is helping to run the University Health Services booth. She said she thinks World AIDS Day is important because students don’t know how big of an impact AIDS could have on their lives.

“People aren’t quite sure what safer sex is,” Shimko said.

FACE AIDS is also running a table with information on how to help individuals with HIV and AIDS. Tom Ream, president of FACE AIDS, said his organization focuses on helping people in Africa who suffer from HIV and AIDS, as well as their caretakers and families. He is also concerned about HIV/AIDS in the Kent community.

“Even though it feels like it happens miles away, it’s in our backyard,” Ream said.

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These organizations made this happen:

University Health Services Office of Health Promotion


FACE AIDS-Kent State

Eta Sigma Gamma


Public Health Service Student Alliance


NAACP initiatives

JaRel Clay, fundraising chair of the Kent State chapter of the NAACP, said he thinks students have probably heard warnings about the disease, but they do not properly protect themselves.

A recent study, he said, showed that 30 percent of sexually active Kent State students don’t use condoms on a regular basis.

“That’s a little alarming,” Clay said. “Through national statistics and statistics of Ohio alone, HIV is nothing to play with nowadays.”

The NAACP will also host a discussion-based program about AIDS on a local minority level today at 7 p.m. in the Student Multicultural Center.

Health Chair John Burton said serious discussions on sex-related issues are not common in the black community—while sex might be brought up on a “purely sensational” level, he said they aren’t talking about the big issues.

“AIDS is much more than a black thing,” Burton said, but the rising number of minority individuals contracting AIDS concerns him.

According to a flyer for the event, 66 percent of newly reported HIV infections are in black and Hispanic women. To slow the AIDS pandemic in minority communities, Burton said changes must take place on a larger scale.

“You can’t talk about eradicating AIDS in the black community without eradicating it everywhere,” he said.

Collaborative initiatives

Some students may be nervous about seeking help, Clay said, but with multiple groups presenting the message, he thinks they can reach more students. The collaboration of events gives the message of World AIDS Day “strength in numbers,” Clay said.

Dotterer said he hopes to see students taking the messages seriously and becoming proactive in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“This is one of those events to really bring it back together and remind people that HIV/AIDS is still here,” Dotterer said. “It’s the opportunity for students to be very proactive and try to open up lines of communications with friends, partners and family members and recognize, again, the statistics are pretty clear what’s going on.”

Contact Emily Inverso at [email protected] and Ellen Kirtner at [email protected].