September 27th is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. As we move into our fourth decade dealing with the HIV virus and the resulting diseases, It is important to consider that HIV is still having a major impact on people’s lives every day. Gay men and other MSM have played a critical role in educating their community (and subsequently, the rest of the world) about the risks of HIV, ways to prevent transmission, and ways to reach out and assist those living with HIV every day.
Nationally, there is an ongoing focus on reaching out to everyone at risk, including some who have not had the opportunity to hear the message, including many young people and people of color. Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS at CDC, wrote this post from the White House Office of AIDS policy, and he references many groups that are empowering men to get tested regularly, encourage their partners to get tested, and think about ways to prevent new HIV infections.
Here at OSU, there are ongoing efforts to educate students and assist them with testing options. The Student Wellness Center recognizes sexual health as one of the critical dimensions of wellness, and offers many resources. Gustavo Carlos, who serves as a sexpert for the SWC outreach, meets with students weekly to discuss safer sex and answer questions.
However, there is work still to do right here on campus. Martez Smith, OSU social work major and member of the AIDS Resource Center Ohio, works with many MSM of color, and is concerned that sexual health and STI prevention messages are not reaching these students. He is involved in community programs that are reaching out to OSU student organizations to help spread the word.
Have you ever been tested? Even if your risk is small, the CDC recommends testing for HIV AT LEAST ONCE. If you have ongoing risk, then annual testing is in order. Student Health Services can assist you in many ways, including access to testing, education materials, and access to medical professionals who can counsel you and answer your questions. Check out our past GYT (Get Yourself Tested) blogs for other pointers.
Get tested. Know your status.
Roger Miller, MD (OSU Student Health Services)