December 10, 2012
Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) Black Student Union and the organization, You Beautiful Black Woman, sponsored a community panel discussion called "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: AIDS in Our Community," on December 6. The discussion was held in the middle of AIDS week at the campus, as EMU accounts for more than 30 percent of all sexually transmitted infections in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Panelists included Sheyonna Watson, HIV/AIDS Resource Center (HARC) case manager; Myka Herron, president of EMU's Black Student Union; Reverend Horace Sheffield III, a Detroit pastor; and a client from HARC, whose identity was not revealed for confidentiality reasons.
The panel discussed the fear of being tested because people are afraid of receiving positive results that could change their lives forever. The panel emphasized, however, the importance of getting tested for HIV when a person becomes sexually active, as well as making sure that the person's sexual partner is tested. The panel noted that a girl in a heterosexual relationship needs to have her own protection and not rely solely on the male to provide protection. Another problem the panel addressed was that so much unprotected sex takes place. The panel declared that naiveté is one of the reasons, as many people do not realize they are at risk and feel burdened and awkward asking someone else to use a condom. Also people often have unprotected sex when they are under the influence of illegal substances that can impair judgment. The panel spoke about HIV being so prevalent in African-Americans and explained that African-Americans often have high rates of many other health conditions as well, such as diabetes and heart disease, and they often do not have adequate health care benefits. The panelists urged newly HIV-diagnosed persons not to become isolated, advising them to join support groups, talk to others, and be open with their physicians about their lifestyles and behavior.
EMU's Snow Health Center provides free HIV testing every Thursday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The panelists recommended all sexually active or previously sexually active students get tested.