HIV/AIDS Activist Advocates Safe, Responsible Lifestyle

On Wednesday, the Al Lawson Center was decorated with hanging quilts of hope as activist Marvelyn Brown spoke to FAMU students about the day she contracted HIV. Red, black and white tablecloths draped the plastic tables lined along the gym floor: red symbolized HIV/AIDS awareness, black symbolized those who have died from the disease and white represented hope for those living with the disease.

FAMU health department and the Department of Physical education and recreation held the seminar “Who’s in your bed?” to encourage students to get tested and to know their status.

The event was geared toward informing students on the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases found in the black community. The program included a panel of professionals in the field of physical and mental health, as well as those currently living with the disease.

The program began with a skit performed by students under the “Health for Modern Living” program. The skit was titled “Trading Places” told the story of how it felt to be an ordinary college student whose life was then transformed to becoming a person infected with HIV.

Melvena Wilson, a training specialist at the Florida Department of Health and an adjunct professor with the college of Allied Health at FAMU, said she would like to see more students attending these events. She also encourages students to become peer advocates and counselors.

“Having students become advocates is the best thing they can do,” Brown said. “Students don’t understand the power they have to affect change on this campus.”

Ronald Henderson, who serves as the Statewide Minority AIDS coordinator, said there are many initiatives that focus on historically black colleges and universities. These programs include S.O.S. (Sisters Organizing to Survive) and Man Up, both programs that focus on youth taking responsibility for the consequences of their sexual actions.

For more information on how to get involved with the fight against HIV, contact the local county health department or call the Florida AIDS hotline at 1-800-FLA-AIDS