Rattlers Light Candles for AIDS Awareness

 The cold breeze did not stop Rattlers from coming to participate in the annual candlelight vigil for AIDS victims. There were singers, guest speakers and poets who all came out to support awareness of AIDS.

Poets from Voices opened the program with original poems that pertained to AIDS.

Precious Dorch-Robinson, a third-year journalism student from Kissimmee, and a member of Voices, presented a poem.

“It has no face, it has no shape, it takes my place and invades my space,” Dorch-Robinson introduced her poem.

Alfred Henderson, a second-year accounting student from Orlando, gets tested twice a year. Henderson said he came to the event, because it was a good cause and he enjoys participating in FAMU events.

“The first time I was tested, the thoughts of having something was running through my mind until my results came back,” said Henderson.

During the vigil, they were also offering free testing by the Leon County Health Department. Kathy Lewis, supervisor of the mobile health unit, has participated for this particular event for four years.

“To catch your diagnosis early you can have the possibility to increase your immune systems strength by exercising or taking medication if needed,” said Lewis. “To know your status, you are protecting yourself and those around you. Silence is death. Knowing your status is empowerment, and can save your life.”

The test results took 20 minutes.

Ojay Timot, a second-year elementary education student from Orlando, said he has been tested before and can relate to people who may feel nervous their first time getting tested. “I was nervous and truly felt everyone was watching,” said Timot. “I fought through the distractions and felt it was my obligation to know my status. I continue to get tested and encourage others to get that piece of mind of knowing their status.”

As Rattlers gathered around the eternal flame, Chauncey Beaty, motivational speaker, poet and the guest speaker addressed the audience with a caring voice. “When you are in love with yourself you protect yourself” said Beaty. “Your decisions you make sexually can alter your life forever.”