News Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)(10.13.03) - Friday, October 17,
Last summer, researchers at the University of North Carolina-
Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Department of Health and
Human Services traced an HIV outbreak that infected 29 or
more, mostly black, male college students in the Raleigh-
Durham- Chapel Hill Triangle. They identified college campuses
as high- transmission areas for the virus.
As a result, for the first time all 12 historically minority
campuses in the state plan to offer students free,
confidential HIV testing. Minority campuses are especially
vulnerable because their typically small populations increase
the odds of encountering someone infected.
Larger campuses are also working on outreach. Marianne
Turnbull, North Carolina State University's health promotion
coordinator, said she is trying to reach students with free
condoms, safe-sex messages and a "know your status" campaign.
About 56 college students at 30 North Carolina schools have
tested HIV-positive since 2000, according to Dr. Peter Leone,
associate professor of medicine at UNC-CH and medical director
for HIV/STD Prevention and Care at the state health
Researchers found that many of the men were meeting sexual
partners at clubs or on the Internet. In August, a five-person
CDC team went to North Carolina to determine what other
factors contributed to the epidemic, and why safe sex messages
were not being heeded. Part of the problem may be that young
black men are especially more likely to stay in the closet
about having sex with other men, according to CDC studies.
Message fatigue may be another problem on campuses. Students
who no longer see sick people become complacent about the
disease, Turnbull said.
Phyllis Gray of the HIV/STD Prevention and Care Branch started
working with historically minority schools on AIDS prevention
last June, because the disease disproportionately affects
minorities. In North Carolina, African-Americans are 11 times
as likely to be infected as whites, Gray said.