The Alpha Xi chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi hosted an HIV/AIDS seminar at the Senate Chambers in the Student Union on Thursday. They discussed the importance of dialogue and information in HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The seminar brought light to this topic just a few days before Florida A&M University’s Healthy Campus Week.
Wendell Hutchings, Dorien Jacques, Christopher Jones and Summer Saelshik were the panelists for the seminar. Hutchings, Jacques and Saelshik are all PharmD candidates at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at FAMU. Jones is a representative of the Bond Community Health Center in Tallahassee and he is also studying at FAMU. He and Jacques are both members of Kappa Alpha Psi.
Florida has been climbing the rankings when it comes to the number of people in the state who have contractedHIV.
“One in 8 people who contract HIV is in Florida,” said Hutchings.
Many students engage in sexual activity every day and some of them do not know the proper steps to take to prevent them from contracting HIV. One of the simple precautions that can be taken is to get tested throughout the year.
“Most people wait until after they have sex to get tested,” said Jones.
The panelists strongly suggested that people get tested at least every 6 months and if they are non-monogamous they should get tested every 3-6 months. Non-monogamous refers to people who are indulging in sexual activity with more than one partner at a time.
One of the bigger topics discussed throughout the seminar was the proper way to communicate with your partner about HIV or AIDS. The topic can be uncomfortable for some people, which results in them contracting the viral disease and choosing to remain silent.
“If you’re grown enough to be having sex, then you are grown enough to be having these types of conversations with your partner,” Jacques said.
Many people are unaware of how serious HIV can be until they contract the viral disease. If precautions aren’t taken, the disease can escalate into the final stage, which is known as AIDS.
“HIV attacks the immune system and once the T-cells reach a count of 200 or below they are diagnosed with AIDS,” Saelshik said. T-cells are part of the immune system and help protect the body from infections.
“Pneumonia commonly kills AIDS patients once the body can’t fight anymore,” said Jacques.
Towards the end of the seminar Jacques said, “The only 100 percent guaranteed way to not contract HIV is if you practice abstinence.”