Cal Lutheran ‘shine[s] a spotlight’ on World AIDS Day

Emilee Fine, Reporter

California Lutheran University hosted and organized an HIV/AIDS: Public Health and Personal Experience webinar took place via Zoom on Thursday, Dec. 2. The webinar took place to honor World AIDS Day. 

Department Chair and Professor of Sociology and Director of the Public Health Program Adina Nack shared information about HIV and AIDS during the webinar. 

Associate Professor of Exercise Science Louise A. Kelly, Ph.D has been working at Cal Lutheran for 13 years and said in a phone interview that she is on the committee for the public health minor. Kelly said that she is very supportive of all of the events that the committee Center for Equality and Justice puts on. 

“Anything that supports health disparities is my emphasis of passion,” Kelly said. 

Kelly said that this event is important to the Cal Lutheran community because even though it is not always in the media, people have HIV and there are students who are affected by HIV. 

“It is important to highlight the fact that HIV is here and we can live with HIV. It is not a scary diagnosis or prognosis and anyone can get HIV. We need to support our students and faculty who are living with the diagnoses of HIV,” Kelly said. 

In an email interview, Nack said that she is a member of the HIV/AIDS Coalition of Ventura County, and has been working with colleagues and community leaders since 2004 to organize annual events for World AIDS Day for Ventura County. 

In 2021, we’re about 40 years into this pandemic/epidemic, and I still regularly meet people who are not educated about the basics about this virus. World AIDS Day is a time to shine the spotlight on the need to increase support for education and outreach, as well as to increase resources for medical research,” Nack said. 

Nack said that she has seen huge successes in research, testing and treatment that deserves to be celebrated while people continue to support and honor people who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. 

“Events, such as World AIDS Day, allow us to reduce the stigma by understanding HIV/AIDS as a pandemic/epidemic which results in illnesses that impact real people who deserve our compassion and support as they seek health care,” Nack said. “Public health and personal health always improve when we stop mixing biased views of morality with medicine.”

Kelly said that it is important to highlight and inform the fact that anyone can contract HIV no matter a person’s sexual orietation, socio economic status, and ethnicity. It is important to educate and continue research to try to prevent and treat HIV. 

“I would like to see more support and research in prevention and treatment of HIV. I think we have great expertise in terms of faculty and students. I think we need to utilize the CEJ. I think we are in a great position at Cal Lutheran to do more advisory and educational work surrounding HIV,” Kelly said.