BSU sponsors HIV/AIDS awareness day

Kallie Cox, Staff Writer

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According to global statistics, 36.7 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV/AIDS.  Many of these people are not even aware that they have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, because its symptoms can take up to ten years to show.

On Feb 7, National Black HIV/AIDS awareness day, the Black Student Union sponsored a testing and awareness day for HIV/AIDS with help from the Springfield Urban League in the Abraham Lincoln commons.

When asked what made them decide to organize the testing, Laurie Clemons of the BSU had this to say, “It creates an awareness, some people are not even aware that they have it.” Vice president of the BSU Leah Frazier added: “We are doing this so people can be more aware of what they are doing, especially young people as they are more susceptible to STIs. We want to help them be educated.”

According to the Springfield Urban League, while many cases of HIV are different depending on the individual, some of the most common signs of HIV are:  fever, rashes, skin splotches, and flu like symptoms. These signs may not show for years and so many who have HIV/AIDS are living unaware.

The most common ways to contract  HIV is from sexual contact, sharing needles (tattoos drugs ect.), and skin to skin contact. Skin to skin contact means a few different things here, it includes sharing razors and potentially cutting yourself on a razor that someone else had already cut themselves on, it also could be breastfeeding where a mother who has AIDS passes that disease to their child.

You are more likely to contract HIV if you have unprotected sex, share sex toys, or if you share needles. When speaking to the Springfield Urban League, they said that the most susceptible demographics to AIDS are currently Hispanic and African men who have sex with other men.

The SUL advises that people undergo HIV/AIDS testing at least twice a year. If you cannot afford to regularly go to a doctor, many organizations will help you and can offer testing services. If you go online and google free HIV testing services in Illinois, dozens of places pop up, including Planned Parenthood’s Springfield Health center which offers STD and HIV testing that is free when financial need is demonstrated. To be tested with Planned Parenthood, simply go online to:https://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-center/illinois/springfield/62702/springfield-health-center-3284-90430/std-testing-treatment and book your appointment.  

The easiest ways to prevent HIV are: Using a new latex condom every time you have sex, not having sex while impaired, not sharing sex toys, and by not using oil based lubricants.

In order to prevent more young people from obtaining HIV/AIDS, Sexual Education must reiterate how important safe sex is, how to have safe sex, and it must teach students about HIV. Don’t be afraid to be tested regularly, as Alexis Morris, BSU sergeant at arms says: “People should never be afraid to be tested.”

If you are diagnosed with AIDS, there is hope. New medication is being developed every day and you can live a normal life.

Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected]

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BSU sponsors HIV/AIDS awareness day