With more than 6,000 residents living with HIV/AIDS, Long Island has the highest number of AIDS cases of any suburban area in the nation and more cases than in 26 states. A Hills West club by the name of Peer AIDS, works diligently to inform young students of this dilemma. Participating students stepped into freshman social studies classrooms on December 1st for World AIDS Day to indoctrinate the ways of HIV and how it can transition to AIDS, a life threatening syndrome. Teenagers today are not as educated on the dangers of HIV as they should be. Education on the topic could decrease the high rates of the virus on Long Island.
After a long day of classes and note taking, listening to another teacher might be the last thing you want to do. “Peer AIDS uses students to teach their peers because teens are more likely to listen to what kids their own age are saying. Usually, we do not want to hear what adults have to say and look towards people our own age for advice,” says Peer AIDS Vice President, Jayda Lisman. The in class visits are used as a time to ask questions and learn more about HIV. Club members are well educated in the topic and have no judgement towards any questions that a student might have. Students are strongly advised to pay attention, because the spreading of HIV is a prominent issue within Long Island. “We try hard to make sure that the lesson doesn’t seem like a lecture or just another boring presentation,” says Hannah Guttman, a sophomore in Peer AIDS. The more people know about the effects of HIV and AIDS, the faster the information can spread, and the more people are protected by their knowledge.
HIV and AIDS are serious problems that effect people all around the globe. Nearly 37 million people are now living with HIV. A frightening 2.6 million of those people are under the young age of fifteen. Every day about 5,600 people contract HIV. That is more than 230 victims every hour. The numbers are only increasing and it is our jobs as peers to protect our friends and family by spreading the word and educating others.