MedX_MICHELLE GARDNER_1

Students hand out facts and snacks for HIV/AIDS Awareness Week

MEDX GLOBAL MEMBERS EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT COMMUNITY HEALTH AND CAMPUS RESOURCES

By Michael Eberhart, News Editor

One in six infected U.S. citizens don’t know they have HIV.

Mason’s MedX Global chapter ensured Mason’s community learned these uncommon facts about the disease and what they can do to protect themselves as a part of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.

“Honestly, even I did not know until I had gone and put the facts together,” said MedX Secretary Devin Singh-Stewart. “Really, these are important facts that people may not know to really make them aware of exactly how much of a problem AIDS is, how common it is across the world.”

MedX Global promotes awareness of issues for students interested in careers in the field of community health. At Mason, they also direct students and the local community toward public health resources.

Singh-Stewart explained their goal for the week was “letting people know what is available and letting them know about resources like SSAC (Student Support and Advocacy Center) here on campus that will provide free condoms to students who need them, that will provide free HIV/AIDS testing.”

MedX Global also hosts regular panel discussions at Mason with professors and local experts in different fields of community health. Presentations this semester included subjects like the Flint water crisis and hurricane relief in Puerto Rico as examples of public health disparities within the United States.

But Singh-Stewart explained that the issue of HIV/AIDS is especially important on college campuses because students are a high-risk group for infection.

“Not everybody has equal access to sex health education here in the United States – it varies state by state, and honestly, region by region and family by family,” he said. “You might have some students who are super educated about contraceptives, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, but other students who are completely ignorant and know nothing about it. The idea of safe sex doesn’t even cross their mind.”

This ignorance can lead students to behaviors that increase their risk of infection – exactly the type of actions that MedX Global is trying to educate students about.

“Everyone likes to think that it can’t happen to them, and I’m pretty sure that everybody who has contracted HIV/AIDS thought the same thing,” said Singh-Stewart. “It’s as simple as not wearing a condom one time, it’s as simple as deciding to engage in safe sex with the ‘wrong person’ one time, different things like that. Just be aware that you have the power to impact whether or not you can contract the disease.”

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Gardner