The Revolution Will Begin When You A.C.T.

Morgan Shannon, Health Program Specialist

"Young people are the key in the fight against AIDS. By giving them the support they need, we can empower them to protect themselves against the virus…”

Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General

During a recent NAACP-sponsored health event on a Virginia college campus, I explained the importance of HIV testing to a few students. One conversation sparked from a student’s dismay in my asking if she would like to get tested for HIV. The student was offended by my question because she thought I was making an assumption about her. I informed the student that I wasn’t and only wanted her to “ACT”.

“A.C.T.” is an acronym for Advocacy, Community Mobilization & Education, and Training. It is a call to action, from NAACP’s health department, for members to galvanize around health issues and act to change the outcome.  Other students joined the conversation on the racial disparities surrounding HIV and AIDS. I informed them they could become change agents in ending an epidemic that is claiming so many lives. I encouraged students to use “A.C.T.” as a platform for social change by informing their communities of this multifaceted and still urgent epidemic.

Research shows that the rates of HIV and AIDS are especially high with racial minorities and statistics remain high in communities of color. According to the CDC, “minority youth are at a greater risk and disproportionately infected with HIV. “ HIV awareness, including the importance of HIV testing, is a paramount conversation that should actively take place on college campuses across this nation.

We need comprehensive programs that empower students to end HIV and other STDs on their campuses. This can be achieved by ensuring access to HIV testing and programming on institutions of higher learning across this nation. If we are truly striving to achieve the World Aids Day motto of “getting it to zero,” we have to be committed to actively promoting HIV testing and education on all campuses.

This generation could be the generation that ends HIV and AIDS. If we are truly striving to achieve the World Aids Day motto of “getting it to zero,” we have to be committed to actively promoting HIV testing and education on all campuses. We need our young people to become their own health ambassadors by advocating for their own health rights and the rights of their peers.  Historically, young people have shown that they can be change agents in many revolutions.  Today is the day that we need young people to join the prevention revolution by showing the world that they can end HIV by replacing it with three new letters -- A.C.T.