GSA Club Educates Students About the Dangers of AIDS on World AIDS Day

To raise awareness about a deadly disease which tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with each year, GSA club held a presentation in the lecture hall on World AIDS Day.

The presentation, arranged by members of the GSA club, aimed to educate students about the dangers of the virus and discuss steps that students can take to prevent them from catching this disease.

The presentation also touched upon common misconceptions about the disease. Mr. Rodgers explained during the presentation how the stigma around HIV/AIDS has led to an increase in virus contractions in the African American and Hispanic communities due to the misconception that AIDS is a “gay virus”.

“World aids day was important to me because it shows just because i’m gay does not automatically mean I have aids. It is sexually transmitted,” said freshman Justin Zavala-Buenrostro.

The presentation talked about the origins of AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo and how the disease developed from Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in Mangabey monkeys. He told the students about the symptoms and signs of HIV and how to protect themselves from the disease. Explaining to the students that there was only treatment for HIV/AIDS, and no cure, made the students realize the severity of the virus.

“We were pleased with how seriously the students took the presentation.  They asked very important questions which were a result of what they had just learned, so we knew they were listening carefully.  Realistically, we know that 100% of the students who attend the assembly are not going to pay attention, but the majority do,” Rodgers said.

During the assembly most of the students were attentive. While some were on their phones throughout the presentation, most students learned something and became more aware of the dangers of HIV and AIDS. At first the students were too scared or embarrassed to ask questions, but after someone took the initiative, other students began to ask questions

“All we can do is put the information out there and hope that they will hear something that peaks their curiosity and gets stored in their brains,” Mr. Rodgers explained. “Ms. Snell and I especially enjoy answering the student’s questions at the end of the assembly.”

Part of the presentation involved GSA members reading facts about HIV from posters. These posters talked about things like Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP for short which can be taken by people who do not have HIV but have a substantial risk of catching the virus. This gives students information they may need but may be too afraid to ask.

“This generation doesn’t know what it was like to lose dozens of friends and family members to AIDS,” Rodgers said. “There is a new generation who doesn’t understand the importance of protecting themselves from catching STIs of any kind, especially HIV.  And many young people think that just because they are heterosexual they won’t contract HIV.  They need to know that HIV/AIDS does NOT discriminate.  HIV/AIDS does not care what color or ethnicity you are.  It does not care if you are male or female.  It does not care what age you are.  The virus can infect ANYONE.  I just want our students to be safe and know how to protect themselves, so they can lead a full, healthy life.”