Since 1987, government and health officials have designated Dec.1 as a day to raise global awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Office of Student Health Services hosted a panel discussion in the Alfred Lawson Multipurpose Gymnasium. Four Leon County government and health officials informed students about the AIDS crisis and its particular effects within the black community.
Dr. Emmanuel Inwang, CEO of the Tallahassee Wellness Center Rx, reported that AIDS went from being a white, gay male disease into an African-American disease.
The panel encouraged students to get tested to prevent the spread of the disease. Panelists weren’t able to comment on the percentage of AIDS cases in the Tallahassee and surrounding areas because there a large number of people who haven’t been tested yet.
Panelists voiced their frustrations about the growing virus, particularly targeting women who have lost respect for themselves by not forcing their partners to use condoms and men who do not inform their female sex partners of their sexual contact with other males.
“Black women are not more sexually active than white women, and yet there are more black women than white women who are becoming infected with this virus,” Dr. Irving said. “This is because the women are not requiring much of men in order for the men to have sex with them [and] black men are not “manning-up” and being truthful about their sexual preferences.”
For the past two years, Student Health Services has offered free AIDS testing services for all FAMU students.
“Tests are done orally; no blood is involved, and you will get your results back in about two weeks,” Taurus Jerelds, administrator of AIDS testing on campus, said.
Jerelds said even sexually inactive students should be tested every three to six months, because it takes a while for AIDS to become detectable.
“The best thing that African-Americans can do to put a stop to AIDS is to educate themselves about the disease and make drastic lifestyle changes,” Dr. Inwang said. “I hope to see a change in attitude within the black community. Sadly, by the looks of things, it doesn’t seem like we will be seeing any change very soon.”