An HIV/AIDS course in every school

For the past three weeks, I’ve been attending AIDS: Principles, Practices and Policies. Tonight’s class saw about six people living with HIV and one living with AIDS address a group of more than 350 members if the UNC community: The oldest member of the group had been living with HIV for more than 22 years;  the newest HIV diagnosis among the panel was in 2008; and the person with AIDS was diagnosed in the mid-1990’s.

The group’s stories were inspiring in that they reminded us that HIV, and indeed AIDS, is now a chronic disease. Because of access to medication, day-to-day life is now about managing the disease. It is also about managing the myriad of other illnesses associated with HIV. Topics discussed included stigma and discrimination and  access to healthcare–one person being having medical disability from a job while others said they had no insurance and depended on ADAP.

This course is also inspiring because is shows the progression of the disease from the beginning of the epidemic to now. The panel included gay, heterosexual and transgender individual. Writing this now made me realize a missing demographic from the panel: young Black women. Although the panel was diverse in terms of race and gender, young African American women (18-34) are increasingly at risk for contracting the disease. And, cases are rising in the Southern U.S.

Nevertheless, this is a course that can be adapted for other universities. Particularly, I would like to see this course at the University of the Virgin Islands because it educates not only students from across the V.I. but also many of the next leaders across the Caribbean. It’s about time the university lives up to its “globally interactive” slogan. What’s more global than AIDS and HIV?

This video is an example of one of the lessons. It’s on Global AIDS. And, as one can see, HIV and AIDS is at once global and local.



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