TO THE EDITOR:

The GU AIDS Coalition would like to respond to Eric Rodawig’s criticism of our work to raise awareness about the local and global HIV/AIDS pandemic (“Diseases Are Scary, But Advocacy Shouldn’t Be,” THE HOYA, Jan. 19, 2007, A3). Particularly, we would like to clarify the messages, backgrounds and factual bases of our “We All Have AIDS” publicity campaign and our “I Know My Status” HIV-testing campaign.

“We All Have AIDS” is a national HIV/AIDS awareness drive coordinated by Kenneth Cole and the Know HIV/AIDS organization (http://www.knowhivaids.org). The original publicity campaign states, “We all have AIDS if one of us does,” and features such international luminaries as former South African president Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others.

The GU AIDS Coalition created its own powerful message for World AIDS Day 2006 featuring those groups that performed at UnityLIVE, an event supported by groups ranging from the GU College Republicans and College Democrats to the South Asian Society and Black Student Alliance. The message is not in any way meant to be threatening, but is rather a statement of solidarity and a call to action to fulfill our Jesuit duty as “men and women for others” by helping those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

We would like to thank Mr. Rodawig for drawing to our attention how the AIDS Coalition has failed to sufficiently educate our student body on the risks and the breadth of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Youth between the ages of 15 and 24, our age group, constitute around 60 percent of all new HIV infections. Because any sexually active individual is at risk of contracting an STD, medical experts agree that sexually active young people should receive regular STD screenings, including HIV testing, as a crucial part of any comprehensive health care regimen.

RICHARD PORTER THAYER (COL ’07)

FORMER PRESIDENT

GU AIDS COALITION

Jan. 25, 2007

TO THE EDITOR:

I am a 2005 alumna of the College and a graduate student in epidemiology at Emory University, and I have been HIV positive for all but six weeks of my life.

While visiting the Hilltop last week, I was shocked to learn that Eric Rodawig thought testing every person on campus for HIV was a waste of resources (“Diseases are Scary, Advocacy Shouldn’t Be,” THE HOYA, Jan. 12, 2007, A3).

I am a speaker for a nonprofit organization called Hope’s Voice, and we created a campaign called “Does HIV Look Like e?” (http://www.doeshivlooklikeme.org) to get college students like those at Georgetown to question their risk for HIV. I’ve often said that the people at highest risk are those who don’t think they have any risk at all.

As an advocate myself, I get a few messages from people who tell me they realize the importance of testing, and yet they fail to be tested themselves. The reasons they cite for not doing so usually fall under the umbrella of, “I haven’t done anything to put myself at risk.” But it’s not always all about you, is it? If you don’t know your partner’s status (or if they don’t know their own), you don’t know yours. In my case, I was an abstinent infant who had a blood transfusion. I needed to know my status, and my diagnosis came accidentally and eight years after the fact.

To each person in the Georgetown community: Get tested for HIV. This is not for fear of whether you are HIV positive, but to know definitively, to say and to be proud that you are HIV negative. A $50 HIV test as a preventive measure, regardless of status, is much more cost-effective than the $618,000 that I might spend in my lifetime for treatment. And for those of you who are positive, you’re not alone.

Nina Martinez (COL ’05)

Rollins School of Public Health

Emory University

Jan. 25, 2007

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