• World AIDS Day Remembrance
AIDS Ribbon

Only Men, Women and Children Get AIDS

Thursday, November 29, 2007
1:00pm-2:30pm
C. Walsh Theatre

Today, more than 40 million people world-wide are living with HIV. The CDC estimates that about 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. About one quarter of these people do not know that they are infected: not knowing puts them and others at risk.

Cathy Robinson PickettSince 1991, HIV educator and advocate, Cathy Robinson Pickett has been fighting against this pandemic. As part of Suffolk's commemoration of World AIDS Day, Robinson Pickett will share her life and experiences at a free public lecture.

Robinson Pickett found out she was HIV positive in the early 1990s, when she was several months pregnant with her second child. She traced her infection back to a rape that occurred when she was a college student working as a clerk at a convenience store. Robinson Pickett discovered several other victims of the assailant were also HIV positive and that some of them have died. But the laws at the time prohibited victims from being notified if the attacker tested HIV positive. She went on a crusade to change the rules and educate people about HIV and its prevention. Today, thanks in part to her tireless advocacy, victims have the right to ask about their attackers’ HIV status.

With her background in political science and sociology, Robinson Pickett marshaled her skills and knowledge to influence state and national HIV/AIDS policy-making and became an advocate for the voiceless victims and patients. Today she is often called upon to testify before U.S. congressional committees and serve as a local or state representative for HIV/AIDS issues. In 1992, Robinson Pickett expanded her crusade to include HIV education and prevention work. She began traveling around the state of Florida, speaking to classes, school assemblies, conferences and gatherings. This small start quickly grew to a national effort to educate youth to prevent the spread of this deadly virus.

In 2000, Robinson Pickett widened her crusade with the founding of Friends-Together, a non-profit organization geared toward educating and meeting the needs of families infected and affected by HIV. Friends-Together works closely with local and state social service agencies to assist families who have an HIV-infected member. It hosts weekend camps to educate HIV-infected families about legal, social, and psychological issues related to the disease. Furthermore, the camps provide an opportunity for HIV-infected families to socialize with others who understand the challenges they face. For more information about Friends-Together, visit http://www.friendstogether.org/.

Although Robinson Pickett fights her own daily battle with AIDS, she has been a tireless in her work to prevent the spread of HIV. Many organizations have recognized her for achievements and selfless service. Some of her more recent honors include the International Angel of AIDS (People magazine), Everyday Hero Award, Humanitarian of the Year (National Pediatric Nursing Association), Governor’s Weekly Point of Light, Ten Outstanding Young American award (US Jaycees), President’s Daily Point of Light, Young Floridian of the Year (Florida Jaycees), Partners in Education award (Collier Education Foundation) and Knight of the Archangel of Michael award (International Police Chiefs).

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