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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Sorority hosts speaker living with HIV/AIDS

Susan Rodriguez knew nothing about HIV/AIDS in 1995 when she discovered she and her 3-year-old daughter were positive with a deadly disease there is no cure for.

“To know that your child has this disease that you passed to them is very traumatic. My whole world fell a part,” Rodriguez said.

Her story captured the attention from the women in the Gamma Phi Beta sorority while they looked through Glamour magazine during study hours.

Monica Seggio, senior, said they brought Rodriguez to the university yesterday because there are not a lot of speakers who talk about this subject.

“HIV/AIDS is not really talked about. It is considered taboo. She has great information and we can learn a lot from her experience and knowledge,” Seggio said.

In fact this disease affects over 43 thousand people in the United States alone.

Meaghan Geraghty, sorority president, said it is important for people to become aware of the situation and take action in their community.

That is what Rodriguez, also a breast cancer survivor, did in 1998 when she and a group of women founded Sisterhood Mobilized for AIDS/HIV Research and Treatment, Inc. (S.M.A.R.T).

“I started S.M.A.R.T because I’m a control freak,” Rodriguez explained. “I didn’t know what this was, didn’t have the information. If I can’t get it, I think other people can’t either.”

She also started it because she felt there was even less information about the disease and women.

Using a grant of $5,000, she and her colleagues held a session of 20 weeks giving women information about living with HIV/AIDS and how to live longer and healthier lives.

From her living room in New York City she held meetings teaching women dietary and dental needs and worked to spread hope to both women and men.

Eventually S.M.A.R.T would become a non-profit corporation in 2000 that would help the basic education of women such as computer skills, book clubs.

The founder also touched on preventative methods. She went over what her organization calls “the most important innovation in reproductive health since the Pill,” microbicides. A microbicide is a variety of products that have the ability to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other STDs coming in the forms of gels, creams, sponges and many others.

Most importantly, the mother of three wants there to be hope for people with the disease, equality in health care for those afflicted and to encourage community action and volunteerism.

Editors Note: David’s House in Toledo available for counseling and information for anyone dealing with this situation.

Susan Rodriguez knew nothing about HIV/AIDS in 1995 when she discovered she and her 3-year-old daughter were positive with a deadly disease there is no cure for.

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