World AIDS Day brings awareness to University

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

Leslie Ovalle/Contributing Writer

Miguel Piaquadio, a testing counselor for the medical practice Care Resource, said it takes just one person in a sexually active relationship to spread the human immunodeficiency virus infection.

“The recommendation is that if you are sexually active you should get tested every three months” said Piaquadio, “there is no need for a number of sex partners, you just need one person to get the infection.”.

With World AIDS Day coming up on Monday, Dec. 1, the FIU Wellness Center is putting together one of their famous Random Acts of Wellness days.

This World AIDS Day RAW Day will be dedicated to educate our FIU community about HIV and AIDS and the services open to them by SHS, said Stephanie Caceres, senior health educator and FIU student pursuing a masters in public health with a specialization in health promotion and disease prevention.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is: “Focus, Partner, Achieve: an AIDS-Free Generation,” according to Caceres. FIU is doing its part to put this theme into practice.

“We offer Safer Sex Education Counseling, Sexual Health presentations, free condoms, and free HIV testing,” Said Caceres, “we partner with many organizations to ensure that students are informed of what their risks are and how they can minimize their risks.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a disease that can be easily transmitted through sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes or childbirth.

This illness attacks the CD4 cells — or T-cells — which are a type of white blood cell that keep our immune system able to fight infections and diseases in our bodies. Along with attacking T-cells it also duplicates itself to keep causing damage.

“Once the person’s CD4 cell count is below 200 the disease is no longer HIV it’s now AIDS,” said Piaquadio.

Care Resource is an organization that provides HIV/ AIDS research, prevention, care and treatment services to individuals in South Florida. It is South Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS organization and it has teamed up with FIU to provide its services to students and the FIU community.

Ebonie Parris, wellness coordinator of University Health Services said the wellness center’s RAW days consist of educational information, surveys and freebies and are planned by Student Health Services wellness assistants.

During World AIDS Day RAW Day, students will be informed of the many free services and resources available to them such as HIV testing and counseling.

They will be receiving information about these resources from student assistants who enjoy participating in such events and are getting experience in their field of interest.

Sofia Pablos-Aguirre, FIU alumna, working on a master’s in public health, and wellness assistant who plans these RAW Days enjoys tabling and the communication aspect of RAW Day events.

“I like talking to students and giving them information that is relevant and can improve their health and lifestyle” said Pablos-Aguirre.

According to Piaquadio and, Miami-Dade County ranks #1 in the state of Florida in the number of new HIV and AIDS cases.

The Wellness Center provides free HIV testing and counseling, available by appointment during their regular hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. said Caceres.

Appointments are best made by calling the Wellness Center the day-of in the morning, before 10:30 a.m., recommends Piaquadio. All services are confidential and are not only available to students, but to the whole community.

“Everybody has a right to medical care for HIV/AIDS, regardless of residency or citizenship status,” said Piaquadio.


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