November 15, 2009
09-195

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

VSU Recognizes World AIDS Day Dec. 1

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University will focus its attention on the global AIDS epidemic and prevention efforts during World AIDS Day, Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The South Health District will provide free HIV testing to all from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the University Center Lobby. Dr. Harold Katner, chief of Infectious Diseases and professor of Internal Medicine at Mercer University School of Medicine, will address the public at a luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the University Center Magnolia Room. Katner is known for his extensive medical experience as well as compassionate, holistic approach to supporting those with HIV/AIDS.

Go to www.valdosta.edu/finadmin/wellness/ to register for the luncheon and presentation, sponsored by the South Health District, Student Health Center and VSU Campus Wellness Committee. The first 100 registrants will receive a free box lunch. Medical professionals in attendance may receive Certified Medical Education credits through Medical College of Georgia and others may earn Continuing Education Units for professional development.

South Health District’s Infectious Disease Coordinator, Brenda Mims, said it is important for people to recognize World AIDS Day and the impact the disease has had on our society. Since AIDS was first identified in the United States in 1981, it is estimated that more than one million have become infected with the HIV virus. Advancements in drug therapy and preventative education are among the steps the world has taken to fight back against the epidemic, but Mims said our work will never be done.

“This years theme is universal access and human rights because the vast majority of people who live with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income situations. Health care and support are not a need, but a fundamental right,” Mims said. “There is a saying that AIDS affects or infects everyone, so it is important that we all recognize what we can do to help spread the word about HIV/AIDS and push for universal access to health care for those infected.”

According to UNAIDS -- the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS -- estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007, some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. About half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 years old and die from related complications of the disease before they turn 35.

For those students and employees unable to attend the Dec. 1 event, the Lowndes County Health Department offers free HIV testing and counseling services at its main clinic, 206 S. Patterson St. in Valdosta, as well as its locations in Lake Park, 751 Country Rd., and Hahira, 503 W. Main St. The South Health District’s Adult Health Promotions Clinic coordinates support groups for those infected with HIV. E-mail John Rogers at jwrogers@dhr.state.ga.us, for more information about AIDS support in the region.
For more information about the South Health District or the Worlds AIDS Day at VSU, call Public Health Educator, January Smith, at (229) 245-8711 ext. 241 or e-mail her at jmsmith5@dhr.state.ga.us.