World AIDS Day

by Jessica Cervantez

December 1, "World Aids Day"...a day to commemorate the millions of lives lost and affected by HIV-AIDS. And it Is also a day to help raise awareness about how to combat the disease, including in East Texas.

Did you know that five people worldwide die of AIDS every minute?

Family members who have lost loved ones and those inflicted with the disease took time out to educate high school students.

Jim Dunham, who has lived with HIV for 22 years, encouraged high school students to ask any question they wanted to about HIV-AIDS. He says this is the age group where the disease is becoming more prevalent. From medications to day to day activities, the students had plenty of questions.

Dunham said, "I take 12 pills in the morning, 14 pills at night and have chemotherapy every three weeks."

And the students were also asked a question themselves...are you HIV prejudice?

Ceclia Stark, one of the panel member who has lost a brother to AIDS said people with AIDS are like everyone else, they just happen to get a disease. She said it's important to remember AIDS is a disease and it is not something there should be prejudices about.

As informative as the panel discussions maybe, Jim Dunham would like to get out of formal places like civic centers and get into small classrooms to educate, but has been unable to do so.

Dunham said, "Parents don't want to talk about it...every time I want to go to classrooms and speak in a more comfortable setting...there's been a big parental opposition to do it."

Jonathan Alaniz, a Hudson High School senior, said, "They should educate a lot more, I hardly had any education at all until today."

Jim says education is key, if he had known years ago what he knows now, things may have been different. Either way he feels it is his duty to speak out.

Dunham said, "I wake up every morning glad that I'm alive."

And now testing for HIV has become easier than ever. Ora-sure is the test most patients are familiar with, but learning results can take up to a couple of weeks. That is why a new method, Ora-quick, is becoming increasingly more popular.

Bonnie Lee, the chair for community coalition of AIDS education, said, "Ora-quick is relatively new. We are doing a pilot study with the Texas Department of Health. They are providing Ora-quick for us to do the outreach test. It's a preliminary test, and you can find out results in 20 minutes."

If the Ora-quick test result does comes out positive, then a more accurate test is ordered.