HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
February 28, 2013
Contact Information

BreAna Missick
Florida A&M University

(BPRW) Why Die Young?

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" The city of Tallahassee is a college town that houses Florida State University, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Community College and other higher education institutions. Unfortunately, this college town is also a great breeding ground for diseases.

The "Bible Belt" refers to the southern states, and it is here that HIV/AIDS cases are the highest. From Texas to Virginia, the South leads the nation in people who are living with HIV/AIDS. Many of the people who live in Florida's capital are from a different city or state. This melting pot could be the perfect place for HIV/AIDS to spread. Florida's HIV/AIDS rates are among the nation's highest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"In my hometown HIV/AIDS is very common, especially among young people," said Cory Lee, a junior criminal justice student from Belle Glade, Fla. "It's really sad and unfortunate because it can be avoided if people practice safe sex."

Within weeks of being infected with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, most people develop flu-like symptoms. This can last for a couple of weeks. In some cases, victims do not experience any symptoms. HIV attacks T cells in the immune system which virtually shuts downs an individual's germ-fighting defenses, making them more vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers. AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the final stage of HIV.

AIDS is caused when the advanced HIV infection with CD4 T-cell count drops below 200 cells/mm3. An individual with HIV can go 10 years or longer without showing any symptoms. The disease can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. A common cold could kill someone with HIV or AIDS. In the past, doctors have misdiagnosed HIV/AIDS as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and liver failure.

"My adopted daughter was born with HIV which turned to AIDS. She stopped taking her medications, which made her immune system weak," said Marcia Williams. "She died at the age of 32 for a disease similar to mad cow disease, which caused her brain to slowly shut down. People who aren't infected or taking their medications could fight this disease."

Florida A&M University is historically black college and university (HBCU), making them a leading target for the disease. African Americans have the highest HIV/AIDS rates in America. They account for 44 percent of new infections amongst adults and adolescents. The average age of students at FAMU is between 17 and 26. Studies show that young adults between the ages of 13 to 29 accounted for 39 percent of new infections in the U.S. in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Statistics show that students at an HBCU have a greater chance of contracting the disease and should use better measures to protect themselves.

All college students must be aware of the dangers of HIV and AIDS. AIDS has no face. Someone can appear to be healthy but still have the virus. During a young adult's time in college, they may experiment more with drugs or getting tattoos. Needles are also a way that the virus or disease can be contracted if not used properly. Students may also be subject to not taking the right precautions while having sex. To prevent diseases, the best thing to do is remain abstinent, but if they are sexually active a condom can protect 99.9 percent of the time.

"I am a gay male in college, so I know my risk factors for contracting the disease is higher," said Brandon Alexander, a political science student at FAMU. "Before I have sex with a person, I always make sure they have been tested recently, even if that means I have to go get tested with them."

Getting tested is the best measure to protect yourself and others from contracting the disease. Many colleges have facilities on their campuses where they can get tested. For more information, you can visit the National HIV and STD Testing Resources online at http://hivtest.cdc.gov/ to conduct a search for testing centers.