By Julie Santiago
The East Los Angeles College Sexual Assault Awareness Violence Education Team (SAAVE) along with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center teamed up on Thursday to put together Loving with Consent, a workshop for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
This workshop aimed to inform the public about the importance of communication, consent, how to achieve sexual health in a healthy relationship.
It also included inforamtion on how an HIV positive person can also enjoy a healthy relationship with other people who do not carry the virus.
The topics discussed at the workshop were HIV stigmas and how to begin to reduce them, important and relatively new information regarding HIV and treatment that many students might not be aware of.
“Advances in HIV treatment have made it possible for people living with HIV to have full control of the virus and reach the undetectable level, this and PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, an anti-HIV medication that keeps HIV negative people from becoming infected) make it possible to be with someone who is HIV positive and know they will be protected,” said Lead Health Educator and HIV counselor Alejandra Aguilar Avelino.
Avelino, who has been working in the field for more than 15 years, led the workshop.
During the workshop, Avelino shared personal stories of people she knew who were HIV positive.
Avelino said that in the past, contracting HIV was seen as a sort of death sentence and many people living with the virus didn’t lead normal lives and lived with shame.
In Avelino’s experience, however, many people who contract the virus do so at a young age and often through some type of abuse.
According to the Center for Disease Control, women and men who report a history of domestic violence are more at risk for HIV than those who do not.
A person who was once HIV positive but is now undetectable and remains at a level of undetectable for a minimum of six months will not transmit the HIV virus.
However, it is important that an HIV positive person remains consistent with their treatment for their whole life.
Avelino said that this is because HIV is very smart and can worsen without treatment.
She said that PrEP only protects you against HIV virus and not other sexually transmitted infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
Avelino hopes that the advances in medicine, new information and events like these will bring awareness on dating violence and its intersections.
Kinesiology professor and co-chair of SAAVE Andrea Owens, said her main reason for helping put together this workshop and other events around domestic violence and sexual assault is to bring awareness to students.
“These topics are very important and affect students a lot. I have had tons of students who have gone through domestic violence, been assaulted and that’s the only reason we do all this,” Owens said.
Students or anyone affected by HIV/AIDS, sexual, domestic and intimate partner violence are encouraged to visit The East Los Angeles Women’s Center in room F5-315.