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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    AIDS week kicks off at UA today

    There are 2,198 people known to be living with HIV in Pima County, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that 25 percent of Americans with HIV go undiagnosed, indicating that over 2,700 people have HIV in Pima County.

    With numbers like these, the spread of HIV and AIDS has rightfully been called an “”epidemic”” said University of Arizona College of Pharmacy officials.

    “”It’s estimated that 25 to 50 percent of people don’t know that they are infected, and that’s really the epidemic part of it,”” said Jenna Carmichael, a pharmacy graduate student. “”If you don’t know you’re infected, how are you supposed to take precautions?””

    Knowledge about HIV and AIDS, or lack thereof within student populations, has prompted the College of Pharmacy to sponsor a week-long event, Nov. 17 to Nov. 20, focusing on awareness and prevention of the viruses. Ginny Geib, of the UA College of Pharmacy, said the purpose of the week-long awareness event is to increase the knowledge of HIV and AIDS, but still focus on what is relevant to students.

    “”Pharmacy students are trying to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS,”” Geib said, “”But they are particularly focused on how it affects student populations in Arizona.””

    Participating organizations include Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and El Rio Health Center, which will be heading specific lectures throughout the week.

    The lecture series kicks off today with a presentation by SAAF titled “”The

    HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Arizona.”” The lecture will focus on the growing population of HIV and AIDS patients within Arizona. Campus Health officials said that there are 6,000 cases that have been reported since the epidemic began in the 1980s. Currently, there are about 4,000 people living with AIDS in Arizona.

    On Tuesday night, on behalf of Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network, a speaker named Georgeannie will share her ongoing battle with HIV. The “”Patient’s Perspective”” lecture is part of the College of Pharmacy’s attempt to push away from the medical terms, and put a human face on HIV and AIDS.

    “”Our main focus is to inform people about the virus and the disease itself,”” Carmichael said. “”But we also want to put a personal, sort of human perspective on it, so there is not as much stigma as there has always been with HIV.””

    Along with a patient’s perspective on the virus, AIDS Awareness Week will also concentrate on preventative measures, event officials said.

    There will be a lecture regarding sexual health Wednesday presented by Leeann Hamilton, the assistant director of health promotion and preventive services at Campus Health Service.

    Because UA is a college community, the infection rates of HIV could potentially be higher, considering that many people who don’t know that they are infected are college-aged, Carmichael said.

    “”Every now and then there will be a patient at (University Medical Center) with HIV, and usually they are at the hospital because they didn’t even know it.”” Carmichael added that ignorance toward prevention of HIV is what the sponsors hope to stop.

    AIDS Awareness Week will feature lectures noon to 1 p.m. each day in Drachman Hall, room B111.

    The entirely student-run event hopes to enlighten students about the importance of sexual health, education and prevention of the HIV virus, said College of Pharmacy officials.

    “”Students need to be more aware that it’s around, and they need to know that it can happen to them,”” Carmichael said. “”It does not only affect certain populations because HIV has the potential to infect anyone.””

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