AIDS Week should serve as a reminder to practice caution year round.
Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day, and for the first time at Temple, it marks the start of AIDS Week.
The week-long event, sponsored by HEART, includes a number of activities and events geared toward HIV/AIDS awareness, protection and prevention. According to aids.gov, the government-sponsored Web site for information regarding HIV/AIDS, more than 1 million people in the United States are currently living with the disease. Therefore, there is a need for such an event – not just on campus but across the nation and worldwide.
It’s no secret that college students engage in risky behavior. The college experience is valuable not just because of the traditional education but also because of the chance to experiment.
When it comes to sexual health, a recent study by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence reports college students are more likely to have multiple sexual partners and use drugs and alcohol recklessly. They are also less likely to use condoms every time and to disclose their sexual histories to potential partners.
Unfortunately, college students are not the only ones who can be oblivious to the consequences and the facts. It is not uncommon for persons to believe only gay men are at risk or in other parts of the world, to believe a sexual encounter with a child or virgin will cure HIV/AIDS, among other ailments.
One’s sexual behavior is ultimately a personal decision, but don’t ignore the facts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveillance report states that in 2007, the estimated number of people diagnosed with AIDS reached a total of 37,041 new cases. That may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: The CDC also reports that roughly 5,672 of these cases were between the ages of 15 and 29 years old when first diagnosed, and out of that population, 1,750 were from the state of Pennsylvania.
Be smart about your sexual health. Take advantage of free HIV/AIDS testing with HEART or any other reputable organization. It only takes one bad choice to become a statistic.