World AIDS Day raises HIV awareness, reflects on progress

Amber Wade

Ohio ranks No. 14 for number of cases


&bull Stark Campus

Rebekka Armstrong, a former Playboy playmate, will speak tonight at the Stark Campus to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. Armstrong discovered she was HIV positive at age 22, after contracting the virus years earlier from unprotected sex. She will speak at 6:30 p.m. in the Main Hall Auditorium at the Stark Campus.

&bull Kent Campus

“The Office of Health Promotion, along with three student organizations (Face AIDS-Kent State, NAACP and American Medical Student Association), have been working together on some outreach initiatives to recognize World AIDS Day on campus,” said Scott Dotterer, director of the Office of Health Promotions, in an e-mail.

The groups will be sponsoring “Between You and Me: Stories from Behind the Veil,” a presentation of poetry, monologues and other information about HIV. It will be held at

6 p.m. tomorrow in the African Community Theatre in Oscar Ritchie Hall.

Students can learn more about HIV and AIDS at informational tables in the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and tomorrow. The Kent State chapter of Face AIDS also will be selling pins as a fundraiser to help those affected by AIDS in Africa.

Free HIV testing at the DeWeese Health Center also will be offered Wednesday. Appointments will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be scheduled by calling 330-672-2320.

HIV/AIDS killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

World AIDS Day, observed Dec. 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS in the United States and across the world.

“World AIDS Day serves as a yearly reminder to see how far we’ve progressed and to see how far we have to go,” said Willie H. Oglesby, assistant professor of Health Policy and Management. “It also reminds us to practice safer sex year-round.”

According to the CDC, about 1.1 million people in the United States are HIV positive.

“HIV is not about who you are,” Oglesby said. “It’s about what you do that might put you at risk for HIV. It affects people from all walks of life.”

Oglesby said although AIDS is typically labeled as a “gay disease,” that it is not the case. “Statistics show that more heterosexuals are contracting HIV than are homosexuals,” he said.

He also said that while African Americans make up only 13 percent of the population in the United States, they make up about half of the total number of cases of AIDS.

“There are vaccines and treatments available for other STDs,” Oglesby said. “But there is no vaccine for HIV yet.”

Even so, advancements in medicine have transitioned HIV/AIDS from being a terminal illness to a chronic illness nowadays, Oglesby.

“New medication allows people to live for a longer period,” Oglesby said. “Where it used to be people would live for 10 years or less.”

He said that since the 1980s, the United States has poured a lot of funding into research for treatment and other therapies and drugs for cases of HIV and AIDS.

According to the CDC, Ohio is ranked 14 with the highest number of AIDS cases by state from the beginning of the epidemic to December 2007. It reported a total of 15,838 cases to the CDC.

Contact health reporter Amber Wade at [email protected]