A Rock Valley College faculty member's personal family experience with AIDS has influenced her advocacy and why she wants the college to recognize World AIDS Day. Her experience and her influence has helped provide knowledge to students.
"We weren't afraid of him or afraid to do anything, so we understood how you can contract AIDS so it wasn't anything that...he was still family," RVC Academic Transfer Advisor, Luevinus Muhammad said. "We still loved him. We didn't shun him or anything."
He brother learned he had HIV in the early 90s and a few years later, after diagnosis, he died of AIDS. She said the experience made her family more compassionate and understanding.
"I do want to get the word out about HIV and AIDS so that everyone knows about prevention and just that you can live a well life," Muhammad said.
Muhammad is now involved in the community and she wants the college to be involved. RVC recognized World AIDS Day by having a representative from Crusader Clinic at their booth to help inform students.
"We have been at the forefront of trying to turn it into a chronic medical illness, not necessarily the epidemic that it had once been," Crusader Clinic VP of Community Relations Shelton Kay said.
He said there is more medication today than ever before.
"We have about 350 folks who come to the clinic for care for their HIV and AIDS," Kay said.
Kay has worked for 22 years and that number has been about the same. He said some people do not treat their HIV and others have dropped in and out of care because of the fear of people knowing their condition.
He said that's why spreading awareness at events like this is so important.
Kay said its important for people to know their health status so they can begin treatment. He said the illness is something that can be handled medically and not the "death sentence" it used to be viewed as.