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Lecturer comes to USF to educate in the wake of World AIDS Day

The spread of the AIDS epidemic can be slowed by the education of the youth, said Olubunmi Oladinni, associate president for the Infectious Diseases Association.

The Rev. Ronald Weatherford, author of Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door: AIDS and The African-American Church, will speak today about the conspiracy theory that fueled the AIDS epidemic and the ways students can protect themselves against the disease.

Weatherford is a United Methodist minister and an honors graduate of Shaw University and Shaw Divinity School.

The lecture will be at 7 p.m. in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center room 269.

Oladinni said students need to be informed about the disease.

“Students not only need to be aware that (AIDS and HIV) are out there, but what (people who are infected with the diseases) go through when they are infected,” she said.

“I believe it’s important to reach students because the AIDS and HIV populations continue to grow, and the majority of these populations are among the youth,” Oladinni said. “There are some people who believe education about preventive methods is not a good way to combat the disease.”

Oladinni said barriers to discussion have arisen from peoples’ attitudes about the disease. He said, for example, some people believe that by promoting contraceptives, sex is encouraged.

Oladinni said students can protect themselves by using contraceptives such as condoms for men. Oladinni said there is also a condom for women to use to help prevent the spread of the disease.

Sunday, World AIDS Day focused on the stigmatization suffered by people infected with the disease. Oladinni said mothers who had contracted the disease were a main focus of the day.

“Some people believe that women contract the disease by being promiscuous, but they could have gotten it through other ways,” Oladinni said. “Some of these ways could be through a spouse who had not told them they were infected with the disease or through a blood transfusion.”

Nicole West, coordinator for multicultural activities, said she wanted to make sure students recognize World AIDS Day.

“Even though World AIDS Day was on a Sunday, we wanted to make sure we did something in its recognition,” West said.

West feels popular culture has placed less fear in the disease.

“(American culture) has become desensitized to the disease and it doesn’t seem as threatened by it anymore,” West said. “This disease is something affecting all people.”

“AIDS is a disease that affects everybody regardless of cultural background or ethnicity. “This is something that unfortunately unites us all.”

The College of Public Health will administer free and confidential AIDS tests Wednesday 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. in room 2003 of the Public Health building. The test will be administered with oral swabs and will not require needles.