“Getting to Zero” encourages student to stay aware of sexual health

To commemorate World AIDS Day, the Peer Health University Network (PHUN), in collaboration with the Student Health Center, demonstrated how students can lead healthy sexually active lives last week.

The Associated Students Inc., Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Center, along with the WoMen’s Center and AIDS Services Foundation (ASF), hosted an event at Cal State Fullerton titled “Getting to Zero” to highlight available resources on campus for students.

Free HIV testing was available to those who wanted to take advantage of ASF’s services.

ASF’s booth also highlighted myths, stigmas and stereotypes associated with HIV. Students who stopped by were quizzed on some of the high, moderate and low risks of the virus.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system by destroying T-cells and uses them to make copies of itself. When a certain number of cells used to help the body fight off diseases are overpowered, the virus easily takes its toll and develops into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Once diagnosed with AIDS, medical intervention and treatment are necessary in order to prevent death.

The Alcohol and Other Drugs committee gave students a crash course in learning the risks of HIV and how the virus relates to alcohol consumption and use of narcotics.

The organization also shared skits encompassing scenarios that individuals may experience if tested positive for HIV.

“I really enjoyed our skits and our guest speaker,” said PHUN co-advisor Kerri Boyd. “It was really nice to have an HIV positive person share their story and encourage others to get tested and just to understand more about HIV.”

A condom station was one of many booths encouraging students to participate in a variety of hands-on activities. A section of the table educated students the correct way to put on a condom.

Models of female and male reproductive organs were also on display. PHUN members assisted a number of students concerning the correct way to use contraceptives.

“A lot of students don’t know that there are actual steps on how to put on a condom,” said Yoanna Sahle, a 22-year-old health science major. “Some are too shy to do it, but we really try and encourage them … to try and practice and get it right.”

Patrick Avendano, PHUN sexual health chair, coordinated the event. “My main priority was to get as many people tested as I could,” Avendano said.

Over the summer, PHUN worked on the idea of the PHUN Hut. This informational booth has been present on campus throughout the semester, in a variety of locations, every day during the week. The Hut provides an array of health topics that are switched out every two weeks.

Students can keep up with PHUN Hut’s scheduled topics and whereabouts by checking the organization’s Facebook page.

“It’s a way for us to constantly keep up with outreach,” Avendano said. “We can’t put on events like this every day, so the PHUN Hut is a way we can constantly engage with students.”

With about 80 active members and 11 chairs, PHUN has made an increasingly significant impact at CSUF.

“Before, I would say that we were a club. But now, I feel we have become a full-on organization,” Avendano said.

PHUN members emphasized the availability of the Student Health and Counseling Center to the student body. One-on-one time with counselors and nurses is available at no cost.

Peer Health University is an active organization open to students of all majors. Individuals who wish to participate in the organization can find out more information at Facebook. com/Groups/PeerHealth.

About Valerie Schrepferman