When YSUnity Vice President Tim Bortner found out his friend had been diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, he realized that the organization needed to raise awareness of the effects of HIV, as well as ways to prevent the virus.
Next week, YSUnity, along with the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the Student Activities Office, will sponsor a HIV Awareness Week to do just that.
“My friend is getting sicker, and it’s not just him; it is other people I have seen that have HIV,” Bortner said. “I know what they are going through, and I don’t want to see other people go through that.”
Members of YSUnity also wanted to promote HIV awareness after previously hosting informational tables in Kilcawley Center on the last Thursday of each month.
“This year, I thought, ‘Let’s up it a little bit and make it to a week,’” Bortner said. “It may be a little hard, but it is something that needs to be addressed.”
HIV Awareness Week will feature informational tables, as well as speakers who will discuss the virus’ impact on the black community and condom myths.
Diego Espino, director of health education and outreach at Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said that people should be more educated about HIV.
“Getting tested is always a good thing,” he said.
Confidential HIV testing will be available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in Kilcawley Center.
“I’m not trying to say HIV is just an LGBT community sort of thing. It is something that we should all be aware of, being a college campus,” said Lisa Ronquillo, president of YSUnity. “Get tested; it can’t hurt.”
Thursday evening will feature a benefit, held at Utopia Video Night Club; proceeds will go to the Mahoning County Task Force on AIDS. The event will feature prizes, raffles and a drag show at midnight.
To finish off the week, a candlelight vigil will be held at 3 p.m. Friday near The Rock, and it will honor those who have lost their lives to HIV or AIDS.