Student Safety: HIV: Be Aware, Take Care

Student Safety: HIV: Be Aware, Take Care

It’s well known that HIV is an epidemic that effects many people, but what you may not know is that roughly 26% of those infected are between the ages of 13 and 24. This is a shocking statistic, but what’s even more sobering is the fact that HIV is totally preventable. Mr. Hugh Epping is the HIV coordinator for LGBT Grant County and was more than happy to share some of his knowledge on the subject.

“The disease is still here, it’s not going away, and it affects people we know,” said Epping.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus is spread when bodily fluids of an infected person enter the body of another. If left unchecked, HIV can become AIDS and will attack a body’s immune system. This means the body has a much harder time fighting off infections and sickness. Despite the fact that HIV is indeed preventable it is constantly spreading by the day.

“The big problem is dispelling the myths.” said Mr. Epping, “Some people think Condoms are ineffective. That is completely false; condoms will prevent the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus.”  Condoms are 98% effective in preventing HIV when used consistently and correctly. Taking a little extra time to properly prepare can keep you or your partner HIV free.

Another myth Mr. Epping dispelled; “It is believed that oral sex isn’t risky. HIV can still be passed to a partner through oral sex.”

It should also be noted that HIV can spread through non sexual means. HIV can be spread when infected fluids makes contact with a break in the skin.  For example, First Aid may spread HIV by bringing infected blood into contact with uninfected cuts or injuries. No matter the scenario, knowledge is the best counter.  Asking or telling in a potentially risky situation can easily prevent the spread of HIV.

“HIIV protection is protection for all the other sexually transmitted diseases.” Mr. Epping informed, “However, birth control is not infection control.”

Another good piece of advice is to be tested for the HIV virus regularly. The sooner the virus is discovered the easer it can be treated. Although there is no cure for HIV, it can be managed and treated to prevent a buildup of the virus. HIV affects people close to you and you may not even be aware of it. However, Mr. Epping had this final piece of advice that we should all keep in mind.

“If you learn of someone close to you that has aids; continue being their friend. They pose no risk to you.”

For more information on HIV you can visit www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/, and http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/. Additionally, Student Health Services on campus have several pamphlets that are available to anyone who wants them.