Delta Sigma Theta hosts AIDs awareness lecture

December 18, 2009

by Taylor Stephens

Louisiana has a population of approximately 4.5 million people, and of that number at least 10 percent have contracted some form of STD since 1996, bringing the number to 450,000.

According to the sexually transmitted disease surveillance report of 2008, done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana ranks No. 10 on the list for states with the highest STD rate.

The Kappa Chi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. held an STD awareness meeting to inform students about help that is available to people who contract STDs.

Amanda Sharp, a senior speech communication and Spanish major, chaired the meeting and gave a lesson on STDs with emphasis on HIV and AIDS.

“Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is not AIDS,” Sharp said. “It is an infection that can develop into [acquired immune deficiency syndrome], but not everyone that contracts HIV will develop AIDS.”

Sharp said HIV or AIDS is not spread during just sex; in fact sex is not even the most common way to contract it.

“You can pass the disease on through blood, semen or vaginal secretions,” Sharp said. “This is not necessarily during sex. You can contract it through cuts, or even sores, and facial orifices including your eyes, nose and ears.”

Lincoln Parish, according to the Louisiana Office of Public Health, had greater than 4 percent of its population testing positive for syphilis in 2003, which gives Lincoln Parish the second highest STD rate behind Ouachita Parish.

Sharp said AIDS is called acquired immune deficiency because it is not hereditary.

“The only way AIDS is passed down through family is if a mother gives AIDS to her unborn child, and even if it’s not right away, she can give the baby AIDS through breastfeeding him or her,” Sharp said. “AIDS prevents your body from making T-cells and causes your immune system to break down causing you to die from everyday diseases.”

Sharp said everyone should get tested for both immune deficiency diseases.

“I have an uncle who contracted HIV from getting a tattoo in Baton Rouge, which is why you should always watch [the tattoo artist] open a new needle when getting a tattoo,” Sharp said.

She said even with getting tested and having a negative report, which means no symptoms are shown at the time of testing, it is still smart to have the test redone in the future.

“Having a negative test is good, but it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear,” Sharp said. “You cannot show any symptoms until as late as six months after an encounter with someone who has HIV or AIDS.”

She said the easiest way to prevent AIDS is to be sure that your partner is disease free before committing sexual acts.

Mica Simpson, a senior finance major, showed pictures of syphilis and the immune deficiency diseases and showed a video on how to use and apply a female condom, which can prevent HIV or AIDS just as well as a male condom.

“You can wear a female condom for up to eight hours,” Simpson said. “When you’re getting ready to go out to the club, and you’re putting your makeup on and you know you’re going to have sex, go ahead and use a female condom to be safe.”

Simpson said the sorority does not promote sexual promiscuity, but rather a safe approach if someone were to decide she were ready for sex.

The pictures Simpson showed the audience warranted disturbing gasps, and Simpson said it is important to know what the diseases look like and to not be ashamed to do a personal check.

“There’s no reason to be ashamed at looking at your own body, especially if you think you’ve developed some type of STD,” Sharp said. “A self-check can be just as important as a test from the clinic.”