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Professor Sarikas Discusses HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Prevention at Arnow Lecture

May 5, 2011


In the early 1990s, the world viewed HIV infection and AIDS as lethal and, therefore, prevention was paramount. Today, effective treatments have allowed those infected with the virus to live long lives. But does this mean today's youth see themselves at low risk for infection?

This was the question raised by Professor of Biology Stephen Sarikas, the College's current Joan Weiler Arnow '49 Professor, at the annual Arnow lecture May 4.

Sarikas, who spoke about the history of the virus and significant treatment milestones, also described his own research related to Lasell students.

Since the early 1990s, Sarikas has administered student surveys about their attitudes and knowledge of the HIV/AIDS virus. More recent results have caused concern about whether today's college student uses preventative measures against infection, he said.

"Our students in general, can identify high and low risk behaviors, but this has declined in the last two surveys," Sarikas told the audience.

Recently Sarikas, with the help of Fuss Center Director Joann Montepare, compiled the results of those surveys, which span the years (although not consecutively) between 1990 and 2010. The data shows a more relaxed attitude and knowledge gap of how the disease is transmitted.

Sarikas said that the public in general may be experiencing "safe sex fatigue," which could affect attitudes about following low-risk behaviors.

He also said that the results from the surveys, which were given to more than 2100 students, may indicate that additional education needs to be provided to college students.




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