The “San Mateo County Greater Than AIDS” campaign was kicked off on March 4 by the San Mateo County Health System to promote HIV and AIDS awareness.
Greater Than AIDS, an organization launched in 2009, has worked to create targeted campaigns to increase knowledge and promote actions to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. San Mateo County has partnered with this organization, and according to the San Mateo Daily Journal, on March 4 the County began putting out “billboard, transit and radio advertisements declaring ‘I got tested.’”
Junior Taylor Sexton said, “I think it’s a great idea. It will make people more aware of AIDS, and I think it will help people find a place to go if they do need help with the disease.”
According to the Calif. Department of Public Health, as of Dec. 31, 2013 there have been 168,602 cumulative cases of AIDS reported in Calif. Close to 4,000 new cases of AIDS have developed each year since the year 2000.
High school students are no exception to this statistic; in fact people aged 13-29 accounted for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009, and the number has only increased since then.
Freshman Daniel Wehara said, “I think that people in high school can sometimes experience sexual pressure. That’s probably a big contribution to how HIV spreads through our age group.”
Getting tested is a way that the local community can significantly reduce the amount of new HIV infections.
Sophomore Kevin Hutchaleelaha said, “I think it’s a really good idea because if more people know that they have the disease, they can really help control the spread of AIDS and help people be more cautious. Less people will get hurt by HIV and AIDS with the help of this program. AIDS is a deadly disease that currently has no cure, so it is extremely dangerous to those who have it.”
People can sometimes be deterred from getting tested for HIV by a want to preserve their privacy. Confidentiality of HIV testing can play a major factor in the decision to avoid a test.
Sophomore Julia Hoffman said, “I think that promoting testing is absolutely the right thing to do. As long as the person’s information stays private and they get information on what to do next, this is a great idea.”
The campaign ends on June 27, National HIV Testing Day, when free HIV testing will be available in various Walgreens stores.