CAAP strives to educate, increase awareness about HIV

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A U.N. report found that approximately 19 million of the 35 million people living with AIDS have no idea that they are HIV- positive. According to CBS News, North Carolina ranks 11th among the states with the highest HIV rates with 11.6 cases per 100,000 residents. There are currently 74 confirmed cases of AIDS in Guilford County.

Education and awareness is the key to sparking a decline in HIV/AIDS rates. Those unaware that they are infected are continuing to spread this dangerous disease, even in our own community.

Guilford Health Services could not provide The Guilfordian with any statistics on the rates of sexually transmitted diseases on campus, so it cannot be said whether this disease is prevalent on our campus. Regardless of the lack of numbers, students are encouraged to educate themselves through STD testing.

“I have spoken with the Wellness Education Coordinator about arranging on-campus testing,” said Susan Smith, coordinator of Student Health Services. “But, as of now, it has only been a conversation.”

Although Guilford Health Services has been working to incorporate STD testing into their program objectives, it has not yet become a reality for students.

Luckily, Guilford has the Community AIDS Awareness Project to educate the community. CAAP encourage students to actively participate in HIV testing through opportunities to get tested throughout the year.

CAAP is on a mission to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS in the Guilford community through the intersections that relate to the virus, such as safe sex, abstinence and sexual assault. CAAP reaches out to the community by developing programs and events that reflect their project’s objectives.

“It is extremely important for students at Guilford to be educated about HIV/AIDS,” said senior Jasmine O’Neill, CAAP president. “People are simply not having these conversations.”

CAAP provides a friendly environment where students can meet and learn about this deadly disease.

O’Neill shared some words from her father that strengthened her dedication to the cause.

“You should not have to get HIV/AIDS to know about the virus for the first time,” she said.

CAAP has prevailed on campus for five years, originally starting out as AIDS Fellows before changing the name to CAAP in recent years. The club has exhibited tremendous progress in the past year, devoted to their cause.

O’Neill commented on clear visible growth in people’s interest in joining and collaborating with the club. CAAP received the Dick Dyer Award for Most Improved Club. This recognition encouraged Community Senate to grant CAAP a budget for the first time since the club’s creation.

CAAP has been notably successful in the planning and implementation of events on campus. An annual event called “Candy and Condoms” is a project to spread STD awareness and promote safe sex in first-year halls.

This year, a new event has been added to the calendar. CAAP will be participating in the Winter AIDS Walk that will take place at North Carolina A&T on Dec. 7. CAAP encourages everybody to join. In addition to the walk for a cause, a 5k run will also be an option for those who are inclined to barrel through the brisk breeze at a faster speed.

Those interested can join in on the carpool organized by CAAP. All who plan on participating must register online by emailing [email protected] Those who register on time will receive a free T-shirt.

“Going to CAAP meetings would be a start,” said junior Will Whealdon. “STDs remain worldwide problems that are real and terrifying.”

CAAP meets every other Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. in King Hall. All are highly encouraged to attend, shine their light and become part of a life-saving movement.