Andy, a worker at the HIV/AIDS Resource Clinic in Ypsilanti, can be sitting watching television one moment, and the next find himself crying. Andy is HIV positive, and the drugs prescribed to him make it hard for him to control his emotions.
Andy, who did not wish to give out his last name, spoke yesterday at an event in the Michigan Union organized by the University’s Student Global AIDS Campaign in light of tomorrow’s World AIDS Day. Andy spoke about his personal experience with HIV and how it has affected his life. The other speaker was African American studies Prof. Howard Stein. He concentrated his speech on the affect of AIDS on African women, which coincided with the theme of World AIDS Day this year, which is women and AIDS.
LSA senior Kaitlin Towner, president of the campaign, said she believes that the different aspects of the disease are important for people to realize. “I think it’s really important to make both sides, both the factual and personal, apparent to everyone,” she said.
Andy said his diagnosis was very emotional for both him and his family.
“When the doctor called me and told me that my test was positive, I had such a strong voice over the phone,” he said. “‘Don’t do anything stupid,’ the doctor said. ‘Some people do stupid things when they have no one to turn to.’ I told him I was fine, but after I got off the phone, I just lost it. I broke down.”
Andy also spoke about the several problems caused by the drugs he must take. These drugs, such as Trizivir, prevent certain proteins from themselves reproducing in an attempt to stop the onset of AIDS. He said he goes through days where he cannot control many of his thoughts, and he also can feel everything that goes wrong in his body.
Stein, on the other hand, took a more formal approach to the subject. He included several facts as to why AIDS in Africa is such a problem, especially among women. He also touched on the shortfalls of generic drugs used mainly in the poorer countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, and how the United States should reach out to this region.
Stein spoke of Congress’s attempt to cut the funding of The Global Fund, which determines which organization help prevent HIV and AIDS, as well as dispersing funding to other countries.
LSA senior Morgan Madison, one of the campaign’s members, said the speakers touched on key issues.
“I think it was really important that Stein reinforced the things that we go over with the campaign,” she said. “All of the information about the generic drugs and pharmaceuticals and the Global Fund are really important for people to know about.”
Madison said one of the goals of the event was to get people to sign up for the Student March Against AIDS, which will take place in February in Washington. The goal of this event is to get 8,200 people to march, the number of people that die of AIDS each day, according to the campaign’s national website, www.fightglobalaids.org.
The campaign also has several other events this week in commemoration of World AIDS Day. Members are working with the Global Hope Project, which is having a film festival until tomorrow, each video having to do with AIDS. The campaign is also passing out ribbons tomorrow on the Diag.