California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    CLU discusses HIV and AIDS during ‘World AIDS Day’

    On Dec. 2, California Lutheran University observed world AIDS day.

    Three local residents living with HIV participated in a panel discussion where they discussed how they got infected with the virus and what it is like to live with it.

    A candlelight vigil of prayer and solidarity was scheduled to be held at the Swenson patio but due to heavy rainfall it was cancelled and replaced with an indoors marking.

    “I know when my friends are going to die. I know when they have just had enough,” said Doug Halter, one of the panelists.

    The three panelists shared personal details about life with the disease. They discussed how much more progressive our society has grown in its view on HIV and AIDS but there is still a long way to go.

    “We were afraid to submit our bills to the insurance company because we thought that if they knew we were HIV positive they would cancel our insurance,” Halter said.

    Eric Kamm, another participant on the panel discussion said the the stigma for HIV is worse in the heterosexual community.

    “Where is the heterosexual person on this panel? [There] should be one because they are out there,” said Kamm. “They are ashamed. They are afraid. They are shunned.”

    After the three panelists were done sharing their stories, they opened up for questions from the audience.

    “My greatest hope is that people will realize who our true enemies are. It is not each other. It’s not about who you love, the color of your skin or what God you believe in. This affects all of us and we should have compassion,” Halter said. “I hope we all live to see the day when we find the cure.”

    At 7 p.m., A Real Justice Film series presented the movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. The movie is inspired by the true story of Ron Woodroof.

    When Woodroof was diagnosed with HIV he established a club where people living with HIV and AIDS collectively paid to access the latest treatments. The movie is set in Texas in the 1980s and illustrates the struggle for respect and dignity victims of the disease had to endure.

    “I have not seen this movie that you guys are going to see and it’s a reason for that. I’ve lived through it. I can’t watch it,” Halter said.

    Kamm said he had watched scenes from it but that is as far as he could go.

    “For those of us who have lived through it, this is hard,” Kamm said.

    Kamm also talked about what it is like being married to an HIV negative person while being HIV positive yourself.

    “There have been two occasions where my husband has had to go on my meds. It has not been pleasant to watch but his appreciation for what I have to live through with the side effects went through the roof,” said Kamm.

    The panel talked about how people are still dying from AIDS in the United States in 2014.

    “In the last month there have been two HIV activists that I have been loosely acquainted with through Facebook pages for HIV campaigns who have died. One was 29 and one was 26,” Kamm said.

    Present at the panel discussion was Ariel Towery, a Cal Lutheran sophomore. She said she really enjoyed the event.

    “This was a great event, very informative and I am glad the California Lutheran University participates in World AIDS Day,” she said.

    Towery said she really appreciated how candid and open the panelists were.

    “I appreciated the panelists’ honesty about their lives and how HIV/AIDS have affected them. Their passion for bringing awareness to this condition and their activism in educating others on prevention is something to be admired,” Towery said.


    Karl Kleppe

    Staff Writer

    Published December 10, 2014