Rae Lewis-Thornton, who has been fighting HIV/AIDS for 30 years, spoke in observance of Black History Month on February 5 at Eastern Illinois University's Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. She discussed how HIV/AIDS has impacted her life and lectured on the dangers of HIV/AIDS in the black community. She stated, "Prevention is our best bet," and emphasized that the safest way to have sex is no sex, but, realizing that sex happens on college campuses, advised people to use condoms as the next safest thing.
Yolanda Williams, the university's minority affairs director, sought Lewis-Thornton to discuss the HIV/AIDS epidemic from a personal point of view. Lewis-Thornton has been traveling for 20 years giving speeches on her illness, with approximately 60 percent of her lectures taking place at college campuses. She wanted to bring her message of prevention and education to younger audiences who are starting out in life. Lewis-Thornton declared, "Young people are preparing for their future, for a career and a life beyond education, so they need to know." She notes that it is difficult to describe briefly what it is like to live with HIV/AIDS because it affects most of her life. She takes 15 pills a day and is on a medical regimen. Lewis-Thornton points out that although it is a difficult illness, people can live with it.