The Black and Gold Go Red:
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at BSU
By Britney Pollard
People came together around the globe on Dec. 1 to commemorate World AIDS Day, an annual event designed to raise awareness and increase prevention of the disease that has claimed over 30 million lives to date.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, a large number of Bowie State University students gathered in the Center for Learning and Technology for a special day filled with valuable information and “goodie” bags.
Before the event began, Latisha “LJ” James, youth program coordinator for The Women’s Collective in Washington, D.C., said that her organization provides “testing, education, care, and support” to young girls and women ages 12-24. The group works with those living with HIV/AIDS, their families, and those who simply want to advocate in the fight to bring this epidemic to a halt.
James has first-hand experience with the disease. She lost her mother when she was four after being “sick” for some time. It wasn’t until six years later that her family finally disclosed her mother’s cause of death: complications from HIV/AIDS. James contends that negative stigmas surrounding the disease are to blame along with this generation’s sense of invincibility. “Stigmas are the number one killer,” she said.
James was also one of the guest speakers for the day. The topic of stigmas came up yet again during her time on stage. She got the audience involved by debunking a lot of social myths when it comes to sex. From sexual double-standards to lubrication, she took her time to relate to the audience while cultivating their now-open minds.
One of the guest speakers at the event, Crystal, described her journey with the disease. Diagnosed with the disease in the early 1990s, she’s been through her share of trials and tribulations. She spoke from the heart, particularly to the women in the auditorium, calling them “the heart of any ethnic group” yet they are “dropping like flies.” Many in the audience appeared to be on the verge of tears.
As she ended her remarks, Crystal said she is a walking testimony to her faith. She said her faith is what has gotten her through. Today, she said, she is as healthy as possible and continues to educate youth on the reality of this disease.
Another speaker, Dr. Maria Foulad talked about the services provided by the Henry S. Wise Wellness Center on campus. Every Wednesday, the Wellness Center offers full STD/STI/HIV/AIDS testing. It’s free and completely anonymous. Dr. Foulad emphasized how important personal responsibility is when it comes to being intimate.
For more information about The Women’s Collective and how to become involved, please visit: http://www.womenscollective.org/