Pharmacy students break stigma surrounding HIV

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Pharmacy students break stigma surrounding HIV

Alice Harper, [email protected]

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Although about 20,085 people in Louisiana have HIV, according to AIDSVu, there is still a stigma surrounding the disease.
Remember the Ribbon, an initiative in the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, hosted an educational HIV prevention and awareness event in the hopes of bringing an end to that stigma last Tuesday.
“HIV infection is easily preventable and talking about it helps to address the stigma surrounding the disease,” said Ryan Broussard, the Remember the Ribbon committee chair.
HIV is no longer a death sentence, but it is still better to be safe as HIV damages your immune system making it difficult to fight off diseases.
Once HIV is exposed to air it’s no longer alive so people should not worry about contracting the disease through everyday contact with the environment.
The disease is spread by bodily fluids usually through sex. Sharing needles or cups can also lead a person to being HIV positive.
People between the ages of 20 and 24 are more likely to contract HIV. Luckily, there are many methods available to prevent HIV such as abstinence, using condoms correctly during sex and avoiding sharing needles.
Some new preventive methods include pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis.
PrEP is a daily pill for people who have a high risk of contracting HIV. The group who has the highest risks for contracting the disease are gay and bisexual men, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. PrEP helps lower the chances of getting HIV by 90 percent. PEP must be used within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV for it to be effective. Then, the pill should continue to be taken for at least 28 days.
Madeline Dorsey, the vice president of SNPhA, said she believes getting tested for HIV is important especially since STDs are prevelant in Monroe. Dorsey said it is everyone’s responsibility to keep themselves safe.
“Getting tested for HIV is taking accountability for your own health,” said Dorsey, a pharmacy student.
According to Dorsey, learning if you are HIV positive or not will reduce the anxiety one might have around the topic. And it is better to know than be in the dark.