In recognition of World AIDS Day, Brookdale counselors and Student Life and Activities representatives joined with the Visiting Nurse Association and Project R.E.A.L to offer free HIV testing on the Lincroft campus on Dec. 2.
The event, hosted in the Student Life Center, also offered refreshments, prize giveaways and a wide range of information on how students can join the fight for an AIDS-free generation.
“I think we are definitely making strides, in terms of protective measures and treatments options for those infected with HIV,” said Eric Wuetrich, coordinator of the Asbury Park-based nonprofit Project R.E.A.L. “But, unfortunately, many people with the disease are unaware that they have it. That’s why we are encouraging people, especially young people, to go out and get tested.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 16 percent of the more than 1.1 million Americans with HIV are unaware that they are infected. Young people represent the fastest growing demographic for new HIV infections, with about 25 percent of new infections occurring between the ages of 13 and 24.
Brookdale counselor and event co-sponsor Brian Oland said awareness initiatives like the one on Tuesday can encourage one of the nation’s most vulnerable demographics to take charge of their health and work together to stop the spread of the disease.
“It’s important for our students, and it’s important to show community groups like Project R.E.A.L. and the Prevention Resource Network that we support what they are doing,” Oland said.
“It all starts with our young people, and the response we have seen today has been fantastic.”
Dozens of Brookdale community members braved a cold rain to take an on-site rapid HIV test during the event. Dozens more stopped by to pick up information on the disease and learn how they can join in the fight to end it.
Project R.E.A.L. is an Asbury Park-based LGBTQ Youth Drop-In Center funded by the New Jersey Department of Health’s Division of HIV, STD and TB Services. More information on the organization is available here.
World AIDS Day, celebrated on Dec. 1, is a global initiative to end the spread of HIV, support those currently living with the disease and to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS. More information is available here.
Check out more photos of the event here.