Florida A&M University’s students and faculty are taking action to help solve the issue of rising AIDS/HIV rates in the black community. Students put on their third event in the Sexpectations series titled “Breaking the Silence: HIV/AIDS, Sexuality and the Black Church,” Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The campaign panel consisted of four speakers: Jean Louis representing counseling services; Derrick Mahan, a senior; George Olokan, an inspirational speaker; Johnathon Sellers, a chaplain candidate and monitor Melvena N. Wilson.
The event began with the monitor directing questions to the panel, including how to define sexuality, how sexuality correlates to HIV/AIDS and if a homosexual is acceptable in the church. The crowd was involved in answering and debating the questions as well. The intimate crowd of only 8 students were actively involved in the discussion.
“Churches don’t speak about HIV/AIDS as they should,” said Mahan.
Antorris Williams, a third year student from Belle Glade, Fla., is the coordinator of Sexpectations.
“I feel that the students that attended this campaign learned a great deal, and will use what they learned in the future,” Williams said.
Keondia Loftin, a senior from Ft. Lauderdale, agreed that the panel was a helpful learning tool for students.
“The panel covered what most college students need to know about protecting yourself from HIV and AIDS,” Loftin said.
Thursday, Sept. 16, local pastors joined together for a luncheon to continue the initiative and share ideas to promote and encourage their congregations to get tested for HIV/AIDS.
Event coordinators want to relay this message to students: HIV/AIDS knows no religion or church, and getting tested is not an option but a necessity to staying healthy.