In observance to both Black History Month and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the Black Student Union at Florida State University held its first HIV Awareness Block Party at the Union Green Feb. 6.
The day was first recognized recognized in 1999.
“AIDucation Knowing is Better” is an event and a part of BSU’s ‘Lift Every Voice’ theme for the celebration of Black History Month.
The block party featured moving testimonials from people affected by the disease, health professionals deflecting common myths, and offering proper safe sex guidance.
The block party featured the Bond Health and Community Center mobile unit, which gave free HIV testing, health and linkage counseling.
Get Yourself Talking Organization was a feature vendor of the event that had displays of colorful condoms instructional diagrams.
Attendants were allowed to have private conversations with on-site health professionals. They provided additional support such as counseling and linkage services for people with special inquired request.
Rashard Johnson, co-chair on the BSU Health and Athletics Committee events goal was to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.
“In our community the disease gets swept under the rug a lot, and people need to get tested so that they know their status,” Johnson said.
Finding a survivor that most of the attendants would relate to was the most challenging for Lauren Glover, chair on the BSU Health and Athletics Committee.
Glover sought the help of Bond Health and Community Center and its Peer Navigator Program, which is made up of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the community and surrounding areas. Through its services, she was connected to Tony Dovier.
“There is someone here that is HIV positive and heterosexual,” Glover said. “He is a person a lot of people will relate to. It’s not a disease that’s limited to just a specific group of people.”
Glover added that the main goal was to increase awareness in the African-American community.
“It is more prevalent in other communities, but that doesn’t mean that the disease is limited to those communities,” Glover said.
Dovier has been living with HIV for 29 years, and is an advocate in the Southside community. Dovier walks the streets by his home near Bond Elementary and speaks to young people on how not to contract the disease. ways you can stay healthy.
He has also spoken to the FAMU medical community and various student audiences.
“I pass out condoms, which is a way to protect yourself after not having sex,” Dovier said. “That’s all it is. You can have all the sex you want just protect yourself because you never know what that next person has.”
Dovier said HIV/AIDS is 100 percent preventable. He said learning proper condom usage is key to preventing contraction of the disease.
“I want the women to be empowered and carry condoms themselves because a lot of times, a man will say ‘oops I don’t have one,’ and that is when you can say ‘don’t worry, I do.’”
Dovier added that HIV is not strictly a “gay disease,” a stigma more common with women, he said.
“ HIV doesn’t care what color you are, how old you are, if your family has money it doesn’t care,” Dovier said. “It affects everybody and if you have unprotected sex it is a good chance you will become hiv positive.”