Do not overlook AIDS

By Jana Fagotti
October 23, 2003

“I think that our generation is educated about AIDS, but we take things for granted and things go in one ear and out the other because everyone thinks it can’t happen to them,” sophomore Mike Egan, a business administration major, said. But, how much information about the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS, is out there? How much time does the average college student take to think about the possibility of being infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV, which may lead to developing AIDS?

Sophomore Maureen Cooper, an elementary education and special education major, said, “The most I was educated on the subject was during my junior year of high school.” Junior Richard DeMatteo, a psychology major, said, “I think after junior high, or high school, or grade school, whatever kids got through, it stops maybe it shouldn’t stop. Enough is learned about how to get it, but maybe people aren’t aware of the risks. I guess it’s a touchy subject, and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe people are afraid of it, so they put it in the back of their head. We are at the age, where nothing can hurt us, right? Wrong, everything can hurt us, and that’s the problem.”

AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. Just because a person has HIV does not mean they will ultimately become infected with AIDS, but it may develop in the future. According to the Worldwide HIV & AIDS Epidemic Statistics (, “Around half of all people who acquire HIV become infected before they turn 25 and typically die of the life-threatening illness called ‘AIDS’ before their 35th birthday.”

HIV is most likely contracted from having sex with an infected person, sharing a needle with an infected person, being born to a mother that is infected or from drinking the infected mother’s breast milk. “The virus will multiply in your body for a few weeks or even months before your immune system responds. During this time, you won’t test positive for HIV, but you can infect other people,” according to

Cooper said, “Sexual intercourse isn’t the only way to contract a disease but choosing to sustain from it will lessen the risk.” According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), 38.6 million people between the ages of 15 through 49 were living with HIV at the end of 2002. Five million people became infected that year and, of them, 3.1 million deaths form HIV/AIDS occurred.

DeMatteo said, “It’s out there just like any other virus or disease. It’s scary, I mean, that’s the obvious part. I just think people need to be careful, and not be stupid. There are products out there to help avoid contracting AIDS and other STD’s but in the end you still know there is always a chance.”

Posted to the web by Ryan Norris.

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Jana Fagotti

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