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HIV talk in Waring Commons

It’s not every day you’re greeted with a free condom–mint flavored at that! But that’s exactly what happened when I walked into 129 Waring for the HIV/AIDS panel.

Attached to the condom was a True or False sheet, which allowed the guests to see what they knew about HIV or AIDS. The human immunodeficiency virus infects immune cells and compromises the immune’s system ability to fight off diseases.

Mr. Wit Prawit Thainiyom, an MA student in Health Communications, led us off with some facts that might come as a shock to people who don’t know much about the topic.

  • Over 1.2 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS in the United States.
  • 56,000 Americans are infected annually.
  • The highest percentage of new HIV infections in the United States is people between 13 and 29 years old.
  • In 2009, 17,000 of them died from AIDS.
  • $20.4 billion was allocated from the federal budget for domestic HIV/AIDS.
  • 32,000 are HIV positive in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • 129 of these HIV positive people live in Centre County.

Some people believe that in associating with someone who is a victim of HIV or AIDS, they will somehow be drawn to the disease. This is obviously untrue; transmission occurs via blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk.

Myths and impossible ways to transmit HIV:

  • Sweat
  • Saliva
  • Tears
  • Sharing Utensils

It is common for people to misunderstand how AIDS becomes the product of HIV.

One half of people with HIV will develop AIDS. Although HIV isn’t curable, if it is detected at an early stage, it can be neutralized, to some extent. HIV infection is measured through the Viral Load, or how much HIV is seen in the bloodstream. The lower this count is, the lower the likelihood of transmitting HIV to a partner. If HIV isn’t discovered at an early stage, it frequently develops into AIDS, for which there is no cure.

There are also ways of getting tested:

  • Blood Test: Conventional Test, which takes about 2 weeks for results.
  • Oral HIV Antibody Test: An Oral swab tests for HIV antibodies within the saliva, also takes 2 weeks for results.
  • OraQuick Rapid HIV Antibody Test: Oral or finger prick and takes only 10-20 minutes for results.
So although HIV and AIDS are not something we like to discuss, they are a problem that should be tackled rather than hidden. Joanna Reissman, senior and president of Keep a Child Alive and UNICEF here at Penn State, put together this event to show people the importance of the subject matter,  allowing people to be more informed and thus hopefully make wise decisions.
Upcoming events for Keep a Child Alive & UNICEF :
  • Black Ball: Oct. 19, to benefit children in India.
  • Trick-or-Treat event
  • Snowflake Ball: Dec. 1
For more information about the HIV/AIDS Panel or any other questions concerning the topic, email Joanna Reissman at [email protected].

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