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Home of the Delta Kings

Stagg Online

Home of the Delta Kings

Stagg Online

Educate, Advocate, Empower: HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention during World AIDS Day

December 1 is observed annually as World AIDS Day,  a global initiative founded by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) in 1988, to commemorate lives lost to HIV/AIDS and promote awareness about prevention, because it is the keystone in building a knowledgeable, compassionate, and proactive community. The organization’s understated revolution through understanding aligns with the global slogan, “Let Communities Lead,” emphasizing the significance of collective action, reflection, and learning in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS.

Beyond the global statistics, the impact of HIV/AIDS is felt right here in our own backyard, with 785 diagnosed cases in San Joaquin County as of March 31, 2022, according to San Joaquin County Public Health Services. This is not a distant issue but one that touches California, Stockton, and Stagg High directly. 

HIV weakens the immune system, leading to AIDS, an advanced stage with severe immune damage. The factually incorrect belief that the disease only affects gay men has created a legacy of fear, misinformation, and societal biases, fueled by widespread misunderstanding and historical prejudices. Transmission occurs primarily through unprotected sexual intercourse, needle sharing, and from an infected mother to her child. The stigma fosters discrimination and judgment towards sexuality, perpetuating a cycle of silence and reinforcing misguided beliefs.

These misguided beliefs can be countered with education and community. The Gay and Straight Alliance is a student club that fosters inclusivity, while Stagg provides group counseling for various groups such as LGBTQIA+, Anxiety, Grief, and plays a crucial role in providing support and information. The fight against HIV/AIDS is not just a global concern; it is a community challenge that requires active engagement. Through targeted education and collaborative efforts while striving to create a place that is not only aware but deeply involved in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

The Gay and Straight Alliance (GSA) at Stagg high provides a safe space for students who identify as LGBTQIA+ to socialize and a space where students can feel free to express themselves without judgment. Jessica Denning, one of the advisors of GSA at Stagg explained that the club’s purpose is to help students to feel included and provide support. Beyond its role as a haven for acceptance, GSA fosters an environment where open conversations about sexual health, including the critical topics of HIV/AIDS, can unfold without fear of judgment. Denning further added, “Just be who you are and no one’s gonna judge you for it.” 

This commitment to inclusivity extends seamlessly to discussions surrounding HIV/AIDS, where the GSA advisor plays a pivotal role in breaking down barriers and ensuring that every student, irrespective of sexual orientation, is equipped with accurate information guiding them towards a future where understanding, acceptance, and education intertwine to create an informed and compassionate community.

The school counseling group, located in Room 4 of Building C, emerges as another crucial source of information and support for students seeking guidance on campus. According to Amanda Crusos, a licensed clinical social worker, “It is important to spread awareness because there are a lot of myths and false information out there.” Spreading facts about HIV/AIDS is especially crucial as it provides the community with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their sexual health. 

Crusos added, “We welcome anyone to talk, to support and answer questions as best as we can. This is a safe place for everyone.”

Taking the initiative to understand facts, dispel myths, and familiarize oneself with preventive measures lay the foundation for informed decision making. Embracing open conversations about HIV/AIDS not only breaks the silence but fosters an environment where accurate information can thrive. Supporting clubs like the Gay and Sexual Alliance or any group dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness enables individuals to collaborate on events, share resources, and collectively contribute to the cause.  

By promoting inclusivity, challenging stereotypes, and combating stigma, individuals become advocates for creating a safe and non-judgemental space for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. Sharing reliable information through social media, encouraging regular testing, promoting safer practices, and actively participating in World AIDS Day activities are tangible steps anyone can take to amplify the impact. As they leverage social media platforms to share informative content, they are also adding their voices to the global conversation on World AIDS Day.

Remember, each action, no matter how small, plays an integral role in the shared commitment to building a more informed, supportive, and empowered community at Stagg, Stockton, California, and beyond.

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