Panel kicks off AIDS Awareness Week



By Taylor Riley

HIV affects one in 500 college students across the United States, according to Brandy Reeves, the health education coordinator for University Health Services at UK.

To start off AIDS Awareness week, University Health Services will host a panel of health and social work professionals on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Panelists will speak about HIV and AIDS awareness in the college community and among young people in the United States.

“The students will be able to learn from the experts and have a home connection (to UK),” Reeves said.

Students attending the panel will be educated on how to get tested for HIV and about the research panelists are doing to help people living with the disease, Reeves said.

The panel will include Dr. Richard Crosby from the College of Public Health; Dr. Frank Romanelli from the College of Pharmacy; Amy Downs, a social worker from the Bluegrass Care Clinic; and a client of the clinic who is HIV positive.

The Bluegrass Care Clinic, which specializes in the care of people living with HIV and AIDS, will have a client living with HIV explain his or her story and also answer questions from the audience.

“The diseases have been stigmatized in the past, and it still kind of holds true today, too,” Downs said. “People need to be aware that is a life-threatening illness if not treated.”

The discussion panel will preface World AIDS Day, which takes place every year on December 1.

World AIDS Day helps to educate people about the fact that HIV and AIDS is still as prevalent in the US as it was in the 1980s when the diseases became house-hold names.

“More and more we see young people being affected by this disease,” Downs said. “People have to be aware for themselves and their friends; it is still here and the more educated you are, the more help you can get and give.”

Students will have the opportunity to get free testing for HIV and AIDS on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Commons, and on Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Student Center.

To symbolize the number of Kentuckians affected each year by HIV and AIDS, 365 red ribbons have been placed in front of the Main Building.

Free condoms and red ribbons will be distributed by volunteers, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Student Center Starbucks, to encourage safe sex and prevention.


– The college environment offers a higher risk for HIV and AIDS based on behaviors including unsafe sex and multiple partnerships, according to

– In 2007, the Center for Disease Control reported that 7,000 new cases of HIV and AIDS were among people younger than 24.

– The CDC estimates that 25 percent of people living with HIV do not know they have the immuno-deficiency virus.