By Gabe Garcia
For more than 20 years, Dec. 1 has marked World AIDS Day, a day that spreads awareness of HIV prevention.
Oct. 27, 1988, was the day that the UN General Assembly had officially recognized the World Health Organization’s declaration of World AIDS Day.
“It truly is a day of remembrance,” Anita Davis, Sixth Ward council member of Youngstown, said. “We remember those that have passed away from AIDS. In fact, we will be holding a candlelight vigil on the steps of the County Courthouse as we do every year. We will announce more on our Facebook page sometime soon.”
According to aids.gov, one out of every eight people in America are living with HIV, which means more than 1.2 million people in this country are living with the infection.
Studies have shown that homosexual and bisexual men are more likely to acquire AIDS. However, over the last decade, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses have declined by 19 percent.
Symptoms of being HIV positive are a lot like the flu; fever, fatigue and sore throat, all which can appear two to four weeks after being infected.
“World AIDS Day is a day to reflect on the progress we’ve made since it first started,” Teaquan Cosper, clinic director of Comprehensive Care Center, said. “It symbolizes the lives that have been changed and the lives that have been lost because of this virus, but mostly how far we’ve come since the beginning.”
The Comprehensive Care Center are usually the experts Youngstown State University contacts when they want to conduct screenings for students.
“We have two types of tests to check and see if people are HIV positive,” Cosper said. “Normally we use a mouth swab test that can be done in 20 minutes, or we use a finger stick test which draws a person’s blood, but mostly we use the mouth swab.”
On Dec. 2, the Comprehensive Care Center will be on campus offering free HIV/STD testing for students.
Carissa Brennan, treasurer of YSUnity, said that the organization will be involved with honoring World AIDS Day.
“In the past we have done a large organizational fair,” Brennan said. “However, we are all new officers, so we want to scale it back. We don’t have a definite plan yet, but we are thinking of doing a table in Kilcawley [center], where we can give statistics, [info on] where to get tested, [get students to] know the signs and give out free condoms.”
Brennan said that World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to teach people about the HIV/AIDS virus — especially those in the LGBT community.
“… Many people in the [LGBT community] have died from it. Thousands of people died before people even really knew much about it. There is a stigma around HIV and AIDS that only gay men can get it, which is not true,” Brennan said. “I really want to help educate people and help people know that it isn’t a death sentence anymore.”
The best way to fight against HIV/AIDS is education, Cosper said.
“Honestly it’s all about using protection,” Cosper said. “If more people took the time to educate themselves, HIV and STDs wouldn’t be the stigma that it is today.”