According to the Colorado AIDS project, there are 6,102 people living with HIV in Colorado alone, not counting the one in five individuals who are unaware they have contracted the virus or the additional 4,511 people living with AIDS.
Today, World AIDS Day aims to increase awareness of HIV and, in conjunction with the event, CSUâ€™s Department of International Education will provide free and confidential HIV testing with the help of the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, or NCAP.
â€œItâ€™s important for everybody to know their status,â€ said Shauna DeLuca, a coordinator for CSUâ€™s International Programs. â€œRecent CDC (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines recommend everyone get tested to help decrease the spread of HIV.â€
â€œHopefully it brings some awareness to campus as well,â€ DeLuca said.
According to NCAP, HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks a personâ€™s immune system by destroying their white blood cells, making them more
susceptible to illnesses.
As the virus persists, it weakens the immune system, lowering the personâ€™s T-cell count until the virus eventually reaches the final stage of HIV â€” AIDS, Acquired Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
According to the CDC, about 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. This number is expected to increase because more people become infected with the virus than die from it each year.
Because of this increase it is important for people to understand the virus, its effects and efforts taken to prevent it, according to the Colorado AIDS project.
â€œHIV infections are still happening in this country,â€ said Christopher Grano, prevention director for NCAP. â€œItâ€™s still here. People are still becoming infected. So what are we doing wrong? What can we do better to prevent the spread of HIV?â€
According to the Colorado AIDS Project, 4,883 young people â€” ages 13 to 24 â€” were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in America, making up 13 percent those infected in 2004.
â€œIn Colorado, youth populations, ages 12 to 29, are being prioritized as a population to educate,â€ Grano said. â€œThere are a lot of gaps in public schools, so kids getting ready to go to college arenâ€™t receiving comprehensive sexual education.â€
In an attempt to educate students about the virus, the Department of International Education is also hosting a candlelit vigil in the red carpet room of the Durrell Center at 6 pm.
With a combined 10,613 Colorado residents living with HIV and AIDS, being educated and getting tested is key.
â€œItâ€™s a rapid HIV antibody test,â€ said Kyla Pfeif, a prevention specialist for NCAP. â€œIt only takes 10 minutes.â€
City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at email@example.com.
Free and confidential HIV testing
- Where: Lory Student Center, Rm 232
- When: 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
- Why: To raise awareness during World AIDS Day