NPHC organizations, LBC host HIV/AIDS educational mini-series

Coordinators hope to foster a comfortable environment for discussion.

The Legion of Black Collegians and two National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations are co-programming a series of events Tuesday through Thursday to increase awareness and knowledge about AIDS and sexual health.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and LBC are coordinating the HIV/AIDS Awareness and Education Mini-Series to foster a comfortable environment to promote conversation and encourage informative discussion.

“Sexual health is not a topic heavily discussed simply because of the subject matter,” said Lauren Grant, Alpha Kappa Alpha Chapter Hostess. “We can talk about current events and who dropped what mix tape, but when it comes to health we’re uncomfortable. If I tell someone I have AIDS, I’m subject to being cast out from my friends and from society. You can even be judged for advocating (AIDS education). We’re promoting a comfortable environment for discussion by letting people know it’s okay to talk about (it). There should be no fear.”

The NPHC organizations and LBC hope to receive positive reactions from the student body and MU community, LBC Activities Chairwoman Kristen Andrews said.

“The issue of sexual health is big in the minority community,” Andrews said. “Although it seems to affect our community much more, it’s important that all people are educated.”

The event series will begin with “Sex Games” on Tuesday. Attendees will participate in games pertaining to sexual awareness trivia concerning misconceptions and myths in order to dispel misunderstanding, Grant said.

“There will be sexual health Jeopardy and the Condom Olympics,” Andrews said. “The purpose is to play educational games with a sexual twist. I’m sure the natural reaction will be for people to laugh and giggle, but we’re hoping everyone walks out having learned something important.”

Representatives from the Boone County Health Department will be present at Memorial Union on Wednesday night to speak about sexual health and provide resources.

“Betsy Smith is coming in to talk about HIV and how it specifically affects college students and the risks posed by it in the black community,” Alpha Phi Alpha member Brian Hamilton said. “She’ll also be talking about prevention, condoms will be handed out, and there will be on-site HIV testing on Wednesday and Thursday.”

A screening of the movie “Philadelphia” will be held Thursday night to end the event series. “Philadelphia” centers around a man infected with AIDS, while asking questions people had both when AIDS first became prominent and still have today, Hamilton said.

“The main character is discriminated against because of his disease and gets fired from his job,” Hamilton said. “The movie brings to light misconceptions dealing with AIDS. For example, some people may not understand how the disease is transmitted. Yes, it’s transmitted through sex, but it can also be spread through needles and breast milk.”

The common purpose of all three events in the series is to foster a comfortable atmosphere to allow free-flowing conversation and educational discourse.

“Sex in itself is a heavy subject, and we’re taking it a bit further by talking about its consequences,” Hamilton said. “These are personal subjects, and we want to make people more willing to share. Sometimes people are afraid to step on other people’s toes, therefore they ask no questions, and no knowledge is generated, and they walk away without learning anything.”

Aside from promoting personal security during controversial conversations, the more obvious goal of the event series is to educate, engage and enlighten, Grant said.

“We want to get people talking, get them educated, get them to be conscious of what they’re doing in their bedrooms, get them to be safe, get them tested, get them to do all of that and then some,” Hamilton said.

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