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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Local organizations bring awareness, resources on World AIDS Day

Graphic courtesy of Jenna Gaulden

The Brazos County Health District hosts World AIDS Day from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. 

HIV and AIDS heavily affects our community. World Aids Day is ready to prepare our fight against the virus. 

Project Unity and the Brazos County Health Department are hosting an event in honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. During this event, there will be access to free HIV testing, free flu and COVID-19 vaccines, an Affordable Care Act representative to help visitors sign up for health insurance, $20 gift cards for anyone who participates in a two-minute survey, as well as free food and prizes.

Medical case manager Jenna Gaulden, Class of 2021, said Project Unity is a non-profit organization that works across multiple programs, one of which works to stop and prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. Project Unity helps people access necessary resources  after contracting HIV or AIDS. 

“We provide a lot of services for people living with HIV with the goal ultimately being that they can take care of themselves,” Gaulden said. “HIV medication costs about $4,000 a month, so we help people apply for programs so they do not have to pay. We can also pay for housing for those that are homeless. It can be hard to focus on medication. Not only do we want them to take care of themselves but also prevent the spread of HIV.”

According to the press release, the CDC recommends that sexually active adults test for HIV once annually. Testing is the only way to diagnose this virus. Treatment is crucial as it gives a person the same life expectancy as someone with HIV. No treatment can lead to an average life expectancy of just 12 years.  

This event has significant importance to the Bryan-College Station community. Therefore Gaulden said it is important to get tested. Roughly one in eight of people with HIV are unaware they have it and it can take months for it to show on lab results, Gaulden said. 

“HIV and AIDS really disproportionately affects certain populations, a lot of which are in the Bryan-College Station community,”  Gaulden said. “It is so important to even just get tested, and have a basic understanding of what you can get into and what it could be and how you can prevent it.” 

Gaulden said college students can sometimes fail to be cautious with HIV and AIDS. 

“It is college students who sometimes make decisions that could end up with them getting HIV. I think a lot of college students do not realize how prevalent it is. They think ‘it is not around anymore’ or ‘it would never happen to me.’ But it is very common in our community.” 

World Aids Day will have free HIV tests. Gaulden said these are reliable rapid tests. HIV tests are blood tests that get results within 7-10 minutes. Gaulden always gets tested when attending these events. It is an opportunity to get tested for free as most of the time there is around a $50 dollar charge.  

Gaulden said in the case where an individual tests positive. Project unity is there to support and guide. They will set up an appointment for them to receive their services. 

Gaulden said World AIDS Day is an annual event, in the past years project unity would visit churches in the Bryan area to reach the local community. Other past World AIDS Day events were hosted at Texas A&M, specifically targeting students. This year’s World AIDS Day event will be held at the Brazos County Health District at 201 N Texas Ave in Bryan from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. 

Project Unity and the Brazos County Health Department are working to give the community the ability to control and prevent HIV and AIDS. 

“If you take care of yourself, take your medication, you will be undetectable which means you can’t spread HIV to anybody else. That is the goal of Project Unity,” Gaulden said.

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