Panel discussion held for World AIDS Day

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the Geneseo branch of FACE AIDS presented a World AIDS Day lecture featuring four panelists who spoke about AIDS and focused on the topic of "Universal Access and Human Rights."

World AIDS Day was established in 1988. Currently, 33.4 million people are living with AIDS: 2.1 million are children under 15, and 15.7 million are women.

The four panelists had varying experiences with AIDS ranging from working in the Peace Corps in Africa to living with HIV or AIDS today. Christie VanHorne discussed her experience in South Africa and talked about why the virus has become such a problem for the people of Africa. Vanhorne said cultural and social issues such as polygamy and a lack of access to health care have increased the severity of the issue.

Rich Fowler, Kristen Lanphear and Thomas DellaPorta focused on HIV treatment and education in the United States. DellaPorta said that there is a lack of acceptance of sexual education in many schools, which leads many young people to have false impressions of the disease. "Many people are under the impression there is a cure for HIV, but in fact it is a health issue you have to deal with for the rest of your life," DellaPorta said.

The panelists focused on education as well as miseducation, agreeing that education about AIDS and other STDs needs to be supported by evidence and not ideology-based. The panelists explained that while many believe in abstinence until marriage, people need to be realistic about what actually happens in today's culture when it comes to sexual education.

In addition to this panel discussion, FACE AIDS hosted several other events last week in recognition of World AIDS day. On Nov. 30, the organization showed the documentary Common Threads and last Thursday the group held a Multicultural Organization Space for Activities, Inclusion and Collaboration event through which students could learn about the groups that are most commonly affected by this disease. Geneseo Late Knight hosted a showing of the movie RENT, and FACE AIDS sold pins to raise awareness and funds for the cause.