HIV/AIDS is a problem that is not going away on its own

Robin Heim

Sorry to break the news to you, but chances are that during the past month you were in contact with someone who is living with HIV/AIDS.

Don’t believe me? Well, think about it- do you think it’s impossible that the cashier at Acme, the server at the diner this morning, or, God-forbid, the cute girl you met last night in Philly was one of the 1,600,000 people that were living with HIV/AIDS in North America last year? Well, I think that statistically, it is very possible indeed.

HIV/AIDS is an issue that is a threat to all the citizens of the world. One in four people living with HIV/AIDS has no clue that they are positive – that should be incentive enough to start thinking about the issue at hand.

But if you need another reason, just for a second reflect on the chilling statistic that more than half of all new HIV infections come from people aged 18 to 24 – that includes us college students!

It is important to understand that this epidemic can only be stopped with a drastic change in the way our society looks at this disease, beginning with the way we think about the world around us.

We need to let go of our erroneous preconceptions about the disease, our feelings of invincibility and immortality and the apathy inherent in us all.

And as proof of this, there are over 39,000,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (that’s more than five times the population of Manhattan) around the world that have been the direct reactions of actions, and that number is growing exponentially as the years go by.

Idah Mukuka, a senior counselor at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), addressed the Villanova community on November 14.

She emotionally pointed out, “At this point in Zambia, if you are not infected [with HIV], you are affected.”

After sharing the very personal story of losing her brother to AIDS, Ms. Mukuka, an astonishing and inspirational speaker, tackled the central issues that she believes to be the reason why the virus is so widespread in both Zambia and the region in general. HIV/AIDS awareness and education, however, was the underlying message throughout her talk. Her educational efforts have led her to understand that awareness is the one cure for the disease, and that without it, ignorance will continue to foster the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world.

Indeed, the United States might not have an HIV epidemic like in Zambia, but one thing is for sure- we will never be rid of HIV/AIDS if each one of us does not do something about it! Remember, you have gazed into the eyes of HIV/AIDS, and it might have been the last person you saw today. So save yourself- think about the risks of having sex. Save a life- take a free and anonymous HIV test on November 29th at the Student Health Center (call 610-519-4070 to make an appointment).

Learn more about how to get involved in Villanova’s campaign at