From social injustice to a lack of education, HIV and AIDS are caused by more than just sexual irresponsibility.
Wednesday, the Multicultural and LGBT Centers will host activist Kenyon Farrow to speak for Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which is Friday.
Farrow said he plans to discuss why HIV and AIDS are more than just a medical problem but is also a problem of social injustice. HIV and AIDS are seen in higher numbers in areas that have fewer resources and high poverty rates, according to AVERT.
“It’s more than just about telling people to wear condoms,” Farrow said. “We’re talking about structural issues that make it difficult for people to maintain their health in a lot of different ways.”
Ohio University has been participating in Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day for more than 10 years with speakers ranging from people of all ages with HIV or AIDS to activists.
“We want to provide a spectrum for people to understand that the disease is not unique to any particular group,” said Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, the associate director of the Multicultural Center. “It is irrespective of age, race, gender and sexual orientation.”
Chunnu-Brayda said the center chose Farrow to speak because of his involvement in AIDS awareness as an activist and a writer. He is also a member of the executive committee of Connect 2 Protect New York, an organization whose focus is to reduce HIV and AIDS rates among young adults, according to a university press release. Farrow speaks about the intersectionality between race, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS.
African-Americans, both male and female, disproportionately make up one of the largest percentages of people in the United States who are affected and infected by HIV, along with gay and bisexual men, according to AVERT, an international HIV and AIDS awareness group. There are about 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. and one in five of these are unaware of their infection, according to AIDS.gov.
“One of the fastest growing populations for infection of HIV and AIDS is the black community,” said Delfin Bautista, director of the LGBT Center. “(It’s) still an issue, it’s still a reality for many people. It’s something that we need to talk about.”
Bautista, Chunnu-Brayda and Farrow said they all agree that education is key to preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Through his speech, Farrow said he hopes to inform students and make them aware of the realities of HIV and AIDS.
“Ending the epidemic of HIV/AIDS is completely possible,” Farrow said.