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Coppin State University hosts events in support of World AIDS Day

Posted at 3:50 PM, Dec 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 17:28:40-05

AIDS and HIV were secret words hidden from public conversation for decades. Friday, thousands tweeted about World AIDS Day, raising awareness about a virus that's no longer a death sentence.

At Coppin State University, students and staff hosted several events for the community.

The day started with free HIV tests, courtesy Chase Brexton.

Students said the stigma surrounding the virus and getting tested has changed. Last year about 100 students and community members came to Coppin State to get swag bags with information and goodies, according to Director of Clinical Affairs Robin Butler.

The test consists of a finger prick from a small purple box containing a needle. The questions after, while you wait is very personal. Representatives ask students everything from their sexual orientation to their drug use, gathering statistical information.

Asking the students, they were very open with their stories, "I was a little nervous because I have had unprotected sex with people that have been HIV positive," Robert Baskerville, a Junior at the University said.

"It feels amazing just to know that everything is great and it's always, you never think that you're in that position but it's definitely great to make sure you're not," Freshman Kiara Northern said.

Both relieved and thankful to share their negative status and help spread awareness. The representatives said they tested a little more than a dozen people last year, this year they expect to see more.

Both Northern and Baskerville said they heard about the free testing through their school email and were glad their school provided the service.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 1,000,000 people have HIV in the U.S.

Now there is medication to maintain a normal life, but that's if the virus is caught early enough.

At noon students and staff hosted a vigil remembering those who lost their battle. They breathed positivity into balloons and released it into the air.

Once the balloon was deflated, the pins over their hearts stood as a reminder, hoping it will encourage others to get tested, so if someone does test positive, they can get treatment before it's too late.