There was a large number of students who filled the South Ballroom of the Memorial Union Thursday night. So many that more chairs had to be brought out to accommodate the number.
These students came to hear the lecture of Iowa State faculty member Dorothy Masinde. Masinde is a lecturer in the global resource systems program. She is also from East Africa and shared personal stories, thoughts and opinions about AIDS.
Masinde opened by saying, "I hope I'll be able to not just bore you or scare you, but to tell you a story that will inspire you to be able to understand what this epidemic is doing to us globally."
Masinde spoke personally about living in Africa in the early stages of AIDS, before people really knew what it was about.
"It was a rumor. AIDS was not our problem. Today the story is different," Masinde said.
A story was shared of a family Masinde knows personally in Africa. A woman, who is a 65-year-old widow, works to provide for the 20 people who live in her home. She had 10 kids, only two of whom are still living. One of these two is her son, who is HIV positive. This personal story set the tone for the rest of the evening. Masinde gained the attention of everyone in the room.
"This disease affects everybody globally. We can't say it's a disease for Africans or people in low and medium income countries, because even here, among us, we are either affected or infected," Masinde said.
Data was shown of both global and local statistics. Studies show that in 2011 there were 2.5 million new infections. In that same year, Iowa had 120 diagnosed cases statewide. Currently, there is known to be 1,139 identified cases in Iowa, but there is an estimated total number of 2,400 cases. This leaves approximately 1,200 unidentified.
Masinde talked about the importance of getting tested for HIV/AIDS, especially because of the risk of passing it to your children. Globally, 3.4 million children live HIV/AIDS positive.
"What have these children done to deserve it?" Masinde said.
With the medications available, HIV/AIDS can be a manageable disease when detected and treated early. This makes testing even more important.
"We don't have cure for it, but you can live with the disease for a very long time," Masinde said. "The earlier you start on the treatment, the better chances you have to live a long, happy life."
Studies show that an estimated 25 percent of people globally do not know they are HIV positive. This is from a lack of voluntary testing.
"Sadly, most of new infections are by people that don't know they have the disease," Masinde said. "We have to go for testing, all of us. It's important."
In closing, Masinde said, "HIV/AIDS is with us, and we all have been affected. I call upon everyone in this room tell your friends, who should tell their friends, and tell your relatives about the disease and say it affects all of us."