World AIDS Day Event: SMC Presents “HIV: Living Positive”
Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) will observe World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) with an event that links a personal story with the global epidemic. On Nov. 28, at 7:00 p.m. at Gibbs Auditorium, SMC hosts two special guests, Tyler Orr and Tracey Jackson, who will share insight into the realities of living with HIV and the continued risks of AIDS, in the U.S. and abroad.
“Many young people today believe HIV/AIDS is no longer a threat because of the antiretroviral drugs that allow people with HIV to live long and normal lives,” SMC Director of Student Activities Kim Caton said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the whole story.”
Tyler Orr is a recent 2010 SMC graduate who contracted HIV after he left SMC. He returns to SMC to share his story of hope and health with the SMC community. “I want to let people know that living with HIV is no longer a death sentence,” Orr said. “I want to be the voice for those who might not have the courage to speak out.”
In South Carolina, more than 16,000 men and women are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. According to the CDC, 13% of people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS do not know they are infected. About 50,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HIV each year.
Tracey Jackson, executive director at Piedmont Care, says that too often, people think that HIV infection can’t happen to them. “I have been doing this work for 20 years so I have seen attitudes change – on many levels – but there is still misunderstanding, fear, stigma and discrimination,” Jackson said.
“Until we find a cure for HIV, this topic should always be urgent,” Caton adds. “HIV is a completely preventable virus. We must take every step we can to help prevent the spread of HIV while at the same time present the realities of living with HIV.”