Life with HIV/AIDS

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Analyzing modern life with HIV positivity, a lecture by Carrie Foote

Professor Alicia Suarez has been educating her students about HIV/AIDS, a disease still stigmatized in society and has become less discussed in public over the last few years. It is still an important problem around the world and has started to gain some attention due to the break outs happening because of the opioid epidemic.

Suarez is a professor of Sociology here at DePauw and is the organizer of guest Carrie Foote’s World AIDS Day Lecture. She asked Foote to come speak because of her work as both a scholar and an advocate for HIV/AIDS rights who is able to speak about the issues surrounding HIV with different perspectives.

Foote’s lecture is the kick-off event for the other events happening on campus during World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Foote plans on going in depth on how one’s HIV status can be used against them and to provide accounts of people who have been affected by this, and also take a look at how it affects their lives in her lecture.

Suarez teaches a first-year seminar on HIV/AIDS in the United States and one of the projects the students in her class have to do is to plan for World AIDS Day.

Her main goal for the course is to educate students about the current HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US. She said that the current students are not receiving the same public health education that hers did in the early 1990’s.

Suarez also has her students actively involved in political activism. “AIDS in the US has long been about social movements and social advocacy,” she said. “Driven by people affected by the disease, and so we do some advocacy work in class and to get them (students) thinking about what citizens’ roles are.”

Carrie Foote is an associate professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University. She is a HIV/AIDS advocate in Indiana and Chair of the HIV Modernization Movement-Indiana which actively works to modernize several laws that criminalize people living with HIV in Indiana.

Foote said that she started to advocate for the rights of people living with HIV when she was first diagnosed over 30 years ago. But she did not become passionate about it until she was personally discriminated against for being HIV positive. “It was my one and only time that I was out right, blatantly discriminated against because I was living with HIV and that had to do with wanting to have a child and being denied fertility services,” she said.

After the discrimination she faced, she also found that women were also facing the same problem in the legal system. “I discovered some women were being criminalized for living with HIV just for getting pregnant and giving birth to a child that might contract HIV from them,” she said.

Foote started to get involved with HIV criminalization efforts. She saw that in criminal prosecutions “charges and punishments might be initiated or heightened solely because of the person’s HIV status.”

Foote’s lecture will take place in the PCCM Watson Forum on Nov. 29 at 4:15- 5:15 p.m.