HIV educator to speak at World AIDS Day event

December 1, 2015 | Events, UToday
By Brandi Barhite

HIV doesn’t garner as much attention these days, but with actor Charlie Sheen’s recent revelation that he is infected, a University of Toledo HIV educator hopes that changes.

“Charlie Sheen’s announcement comes right as we prepare to mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1,” said Danielle Van Fleet, HIV testing coordinator for the Ryan White Program on Health Science Campus. “I hope that the public will realize that HIV does not discriminate and is completely preventable. Even though HIV is not curable, there are medications to help a person live with the virus.”

Van Fleet

Van Fleet

Van Fleet will share startling statistics during the sixth annual AIDS Awareness Gala Friday, Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium on Main Campus. The African People’s Association and UT’s Student National Pharmaceutical Association are hosting the gala. UT’s International Student Association is a sponsor.

Young people, ages 15 to 24, in Lucas County accounted for 31 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases in 2013, Van Fleet said. Young black men and young gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities are at the greatest risk.

“College is when students begin to explore their sexuality, which makes them vulnerable for HIV and other sexual transmitted infections if they do not take the proper precautions,” Van Fleet said. “I want students to understand that unprotected sex is a leading factor in contracting a sexually transmitted infection. It only takes one time.”

Nnenna Kalu, event coordinator for the African’s People’s Association, said it is important for college students to take HIV and sexually transmitted infections seriously. The UT biology major said students often think they are invincible. They think HIV happens to other people.

Van Fleet said she plans to address sexually transmitted infections because Lucas County rates for chlamydia are above the rates of other counties in Ohio. Lucas County also has a high rate for gonorrhea with an average of 1,100 people in the Toledo area contracting the disease each year, she said.

The gala will include free HIV/AIDS testing as well as entertainment and giveaways.

Tickets are $12 at the door; $10 in advance at the Ask Rocky Information Center in the Student Union; or $5 for African People’s Association and Student National Pharmaceutical Association members.

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