Blair students attend World AIDS Day conference

Nov. 26, 2002, midnight | By Nora Toiv | 20 years ago

World AIDS Day was recognized by Blair's AIDS peer educators who went to Georgetown University for an AIDS awareness conference.

AIDS has been increasing the most among women. There are about 40 million people infected with the virus, (2/3 of whom are in Africa).

To prevent AIDS, there needs to awareness and that is what Dr. John Hogan told the students. Hogan is an AIDS specialist and cautioned students about making bad choices by telling some of his own life story. He repeatedly told students "a moment's decision can have a lifetime of consequences."

The conference was on November 26 and consisted of students from Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. The speakers were doctors, peer educators, and people living with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The morning was spent listening to the speakers and in the afternoon there were workshops. Each speaker tried to encourage students that they each held the power to prevent AIDS in themselves and could try through peer education to help others understand AIDS, as well.

The first speaker was S. Ray Mitchell, the Dean for Medical Education at Georgetown. He told students that each on of them could "change the world." He said that a student in the room could be the one to find a cure.

According to Dr. Hogan, AIDS has become more of a chronic disease with the new drugs on the market. Back when the virus first became prevalent in the United States, a person infected with AIDS was only expected to live around two years. AIDS can now be compared to cancer except that there is a social stigma still surrounding AIDS that has yet to be completely lifted. "The good thing is that we have begun to speak about [AIDS]," said Dr. Michael Richardson, the Senior Deputy Director for Medical Affairs in D.C.

The panel made up of people living with AIDS was very candid about the virus, and each person told their own stories. One man was very quiet about the disease but the three women and the other man were very open. The three women's stories were quite compelling. One woman who comes to speak to Blair health classes told students how her cheating husband gave her HIV/AIDS and how when she found out, she lost her job, her boyfriend left her, and one of her sons started drinking but even though there were some heartbreaking stories, each of these people have been able to pick up the pieces of their lives, come to terms with AIDS, and tell their stories so that people will not repeat their mistakes. "They call me the condom lady," said one woman. "I ask everyone who comes over my house if they want a condom."

To find out more about AIDS awareness visit or

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