Peer educators and a guest speaker spread awareness on World AIDS Day

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On World AIDS Day, Townsend Harris students have traditionally learned about HIV/AIDS history and prevention from peer educators. This year, in addition to lessons from peer educators a speaker from Generation Q came to share her knowledge on HIV/AIDS.

The guest speaker, Julia Peitzer, said she wanted to create a safe space for talking about the taboo topic of sex. During the seminar, Peitzer unpacked the stigmatism around HIV/AIDS and the impact the epidemic had on the LGBTQ+ community.

Physical Education and Health teacher Matt Lemanczyk said, “HIV/AIDS is a part of our society, and understanding the different aspects of the virus such as prevention, testing, and the different components involved with potentially living with the virus is very important.” 

The day provides an opportunity for students to become educated in topics that go beyond a typical high school curriculum. 

Sophomore Vivian Oksenhendler said, “the misconstrued opinions and perspectives on [HIV/AIDS] in the past makes it really great that our generation is being correctly educated on it.” 

Throughout the school day, peer educators presented small group activities and lessons to English and History classes 

Junior Prisye Johnson, a peer educator, said, “Some of the activities are fun for both the class and the educators. Even though it’s obviously awkward, you push through it and educate people to mak[e] sure that they are being safe and taking the right measures to know what to do in the right circumstances.” 

Photo by Katherine Lian

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