AIDS not a ‘disease of the month’

Abbey Linville

Dr. Diane Kerr delivers her speech, “The 20th Anniversary of World AIDS,” to a group of students about how AIDS is being combatted in the world last night in the Kiva. Kerr’s presentation was sponsored by Face AIDS Kent Chapter and was part of yesterday’s

Credit: DKS Editors

Some may find a goat to be an odd Christmas gift, but for Dianne Kerr, associate professor of Adult Counseling Health and Vocational Education, it’s the top thing on her list. Kerr asked her family to donate a goat in her name to help communities heavily affected by the AIDS epidemic.

Kent State students and AIDS activists piled into the Kiva to hear Dianne Kerr speak about the growing global AIDS epidemic as part of the 2008 World AIDS Day themed “Lead, Empower, Deliver.”

Kerr, who previously worked at Ohio State, has been a part of the AIDS front since 1986.

“My advisers told me that AIDS was the ‘disease of the month’ and it surely would be cured in the next few years,” said Kerr of her superiors at Ohio State.

Twenty-two years later, 7,500 people are infected daily and 5,500 die from AIDS mostly due to lack of treatment.

The presentation was put on last night in part by a new Kent State student organization, Face AIDS. The Kent State chapter, part of a national student organization, was started this fall.

The group’s goal is to raise awareness of the growing epidemic in Africa and raise donations through Partners in Health, a nonprofit organization that sells beaded pins to help fund health care and education in poor countries.

Kerr said that a primary reason for the spread of AIDS is because many leaders of poor African countries refused to believe that HIV caused AIDS

Another reason for the increasing epidemic, Kerr said, is the low level of condom use and distribution worldwide. Eta Sigma Gamma, the professional honorary fraternity for health education, distributed condoms and safer sex kits at the event.

Kerr stressed that students must check condom packages, particularly on novelty condoms, to ensure that they promote safer sex.

“Use condoms for oral sex, too. It’s not the safe sex everyone thinks it is, and they’re flavored for a reason.”

“We here in the U.S. have contributed about $20 billion to combat HIV/AIDS, which sounds like a ton of money until you think about some of the bailouts they have right now for $700 some billion,” said Kerr.

She feels that the government has spent too much money and time on treatment and not enough on prevention. Kerr warned that if nothing changes in the methods of prevention, in 2010, the average life expectancy for those living in the poorest African countries will drop from 40-70 years-of-age to 20-30 years-of-age.

“I was shocked to hear that Africa has 11.6 million AIDS orphans,” Melanie Merritt, a freshman advertising major, said.

Merritt wished that the speech focused more on U.S. statistics of AIDS and HIV, but thought the idea of giving a goat to an impoverished family for Christmas would be wonderful.

Contact College of Technology reporter Abbey Linville at [email protected].