University celebrates World AIDS Day by hosting HIV resource fair

Student Health Services at MMC. Photo courtesy of FIU via Creative Commons’ flickr.

Carolina Barreto/Contributing Writer

Miami-Dade County currently ranks first in the nation for HIV and AIDs, logging the highest number of new AIDS cases per capita in the United States with about 125,000 people currently living with HIV in Florida.

“Not everyone is invincible.  It is very, very possible for you to contract an STD,” said Ebonie Parris, Wellness Coordinator at FIU’s Student Health Services.

With World AIDS Day taking place this month, SHS will be hosting a resource fair with free HIV testing and guest speaker Glen Weinzimer, founder of SMART ride, in the Wolfe Center Ballrooms at Biscayne Bay Campus on Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be a tabling event outside of Green Library at Modesto Maidique Campus on Dec. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Why is the number in South Florida so high?

“It could be a number of reasons.  It could be because Miami is one of the biggest vacation spots, lack of education and knowledge.  Not everyone knows that they are HIV positive.  That’s not just with HIV; that’s with any STD,” said Parris.

“Sexual health is a top concern here on campus,” said Parris.

To promote STD prevention and educate students on all other STDs, SHS staff and student assistants will be giving information, showing how to properly put on male and female condoms, giving away condoms and distributing different pamphlets.

The top contracted STDs at the University are chlamydia, HPV and herpes.

Parris said gonorrhea is probably the fourth.

“One of them is treatable, and the other two are not.  There is a vaccination for HPV.  It’s a series of three shots, and we do offer it,” said Parris.

The University offers free HIV testing.

“Anybody can get tested as long as you have a valid photo ID,” Parris said. “They can come to the University Health Services Complex where they can get tested three times a week.”

It’s a 30 minute process by walk-in or appointment.

“They do the testing which is a swab—not blood.  About 20 minutes later, you have your results.  You can bring basically anybody to get tested.  It would be great if you and your partner get tested together,” said Parris.

The University also offers sexual health consultations.

“We do get a lot of questions on AIDS.  Some people aren’t sure if it’s just blood-to-blood contact or how you get tested,” said Parris. “ Orally it is very rare that it happens, but it is possible.  It tends to happen if there are sores in the mouth.  I like to say, ‘Open sores are open doors,’ and that’s for any STD.”

“A couple years ago, I came into contact with someone who is HIV positive, and she was saying a lot of people were scared that they can’t touch her or hug her.  You can have sex with someone who is HIV positive, but you have to be very careful with yourself and for that person because their immune system is now compromised,” said Parris.

Student Health Service’s World AIDS Day hopes to debunk these myths and educate the University about safe sex and STD testing.

“You should know yourself one on one before you let anybody else into that region,” said Parris.


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