Raising awareness

Saturday is World AIDS Day.

The World Health Organization first established World AIDS Day in 1988 to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

The Youngstown City Health District will offer free walk-in HIV testing at the Youngstown State University Student Health Clinic.

The 20-minute test is done by oral swab, and no appointment is necessary. Testing is available from 9 a.m. until noon on Thursday, as well as from 9 a.m. until noon and then from 12:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 9.

Tim Bortner, vice president of YSUnity — a student-run organization that promotes awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues — said that HIV testing, along with testing for other sexually transmitted diseases, is essential for all students.

“Even if you’re not sexually active, it’s important to know your status,” Bortner said. “It’s important for all STDs, actually, especially if you are sexually active.”

HIV can be transmitted through bodily fluids. If you are sexually active, the best way to protect yourself against the virus is to take the necessary precautions and use a condom.

According to a report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five people infected with HIV are unaware of their status. More than 1 million Americans are currently living with HIV.

YSUnity will work with the Ohio Lady Advocates to run an HIV awareness table in the lobby area of Kilcawley Center on Thursday. The organizations will be providing information for HIV testing on campus and off campus, giving out free condoms and answering questions.

Lisa Ronquillo, YSUnity president, said that YSUnity will also be present at the Tunnel of Oppression in Kilcawley Center’s President Suites this week.

You can find more information online, along with information on local test centers and contact details for local clinics, at http://www.aids.gov.