Cape Verdean student group promotes AIDS awareness

Cape Verdean student group promotes AIDS awareness

By Zach Finkelstein

With increased news coverage of AIDS prevention programs in Africa, it is easy for AIDS to seem distant. But the Cape Verdean Society was out to reverse that perception at a recent event.

The Society hosted “You Think You Know,” on Oct. 25, an event designed to raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The event was hosted by Daphne Thompson-Addabbo and Rachel Klauber of Boston’s Planned Parenthood.

A 1970 graduate of Northeastern’s school of nursing, Thompson-Addabbo decided to become a sex educator while working in an OBGYN clinic as a nurse. Appalled with often misinformed young adults, Thompson-Addabbo decided to join Planned Parenthood in order to educate the community on the risks and preventive measures available to them, she said.

“Personally, I look at my own situation and I am shocked as to how little education I received about STDs growing up,” Thompson-Addabbo said. “There is tons and tons of misinformation that gets passed along as fact, and I felt that more people were needed to educate the public.”

Thompson-Addabbo said the public needs to not only be educated about the facts but about how this relates to their own health as well.

“While most STDs are curable, society needs to make sure they are doing everything possible in order to prevent a possible infection,” she said. “It is not only our health that we are endangering by being negligent, it is also the health of those we care about most.”

The presenters spent most of the event discussing both the risks and rewards associated with having sex, which is often missing in academic sexual education. Klauber addressed the unrealistic educational techniques used by schools, saying “today’s children are being told to abstain from sexual intercourse altogether.”

“Kids are going to do it with or without the green light from their elders, and with or without the knowledge needed to protect themselves,” she said. “I feel that young adults should be educated on all of their protection options.”

By teaching both the risks and rewards of sex, there is more of a chance young adults will pay attention and learn how to protect themselves properly, instead of just tuning out adults who tell them to be abstinent, Klauber said.

Young adults must also learn about ongoing sexual health and not just sexual health that is relevant to the heat of the moment, she said.

“I advise all sexually active young adults to be tested annually after the age of 18,” Klauber said.

Celina De Barros, a senior criminal justice major and president of the Cape Verdean society, said she wanted to hold an event that would remind people of the importance of sexual education.

“We wanted to hold an event that was both educational and lively,” De Barros said. “The members of the Cape Verdean Society felt that it would be in the best interests of the Northeastern community to host an event that could potentially save lives. There are a lot of myths that exist about STDs. It was our hope that this clinic would serve as a refresher course to all those in attendance.”

The two hour sex education brush-up bore little resemblance to the sex education of high school, said junior psychology major Krista Hill.

Hill, who attended the sex education event for her human services class, said “the event was set up with great balance, as the presenters were able to talk easily about a very sensitive issue.”

Hill also said the clinic easily kept her attention.

“The speakers, with their animated demeanors, had the uncanny ability to maintain the crowd’s focus for an elongated period of time,” she said. “I also appreciated how I did not feel lectured. The crowd interaction was a huge addition to what easily could have been turned into a painstaking couple of hours. Besides, who can say no to free food and condoms?”

Klauber also said young adults must realize sex is more than an intimate activity, but a choice and communication between partners.

“I tell everyone who comes into my office that being honest and forthright with your partner is the only option you have,” she said. “Sex is a great thing, and it is a shame when it is ruined with negligent behavior. Life is too sweet to throw away for a little spur-of-the-moment pleasure.”

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