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September 29, 2023

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Wellness Connection hosts panel for World AIDS Day

The Student Wellness Network is committed to making sure students are healthy and protected at the University, president of SWN, Russell Miller said.

In their latest effort to inform students on how to stay protected from diseases, they hosted a panel about World AIDS Day Tuesday.

The panel consisted of five people, including Brandon Schmid and Cheyenne Nawrot , Mark Pawelczak, Ohio Department of Health worker and STD Prevention Program Consultant, Christie Clinton, employee at University of Toledo Medical Center and Danielle VanFleet, HIV Testing Coordinator at UTMC.

“We throw a lot of events throughout the year such as Hydration Station, Throw Balls to Save Balls and World AIDS Day, to name a few,” Miller said. “We have upcoming events that will focus on financial wellness as well; we aim to be multi-faceted.”

Faith Yingling, Director of the Wellness Connection and adviser to the Student Wellness Network, said that wellness for students is sometimes overlooked, especially when it comes to HIV and AIDS.

“I inherited the position about seven and a half years ago, and I really enjoy working with the students,” Yingling said. “About one in four new HIV infections is to those 13 to 24-years old. Most don’t know they’re infected and aren’t getting treated, therefore passing the virus to others. BGSU students fall within this age range so they must take precautions to protect themselves and their partners.”

Students who had questions could write them on a notecard and they would be read anonymously. Questions were asked about HIV, how it is contracted, what protection is available, and the stigma surrounding people living with the virus.

“Wood County has diagnosed seven new cases of HIV this year, and five of those were on campus situations,” Pawelzcak said. “HIV has no clue who it’s infecting. Take control of HIV before it takes control of you.”

Miller said that his love of public health helps him to keep his peers aware about wellness.

“With me being a public health major, what I lean in the classroom seeps into my role with the Student Wellness Network,” Miller said. “We teach the seven dimensions of wellness, which are physical, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, intellectual and financial. AIDS is a big topic and sometimes uncomfortable, so it’s good for students to know. We put on programs about AIDS and STI’s and stuff to navigate students to be the healthiest they can be.”

Yingling said that wellness resources are underused by some students and resource outreach is important.

“Wellness resources are certainly underutilized by some students,” Yingling said. “Improvement comes from finding ways to reach students to let them know about these resources through a variety of means, including social media, email, peer to peer, stall talk, print, web and info/discussions.”

The event also gave students free safe sex kits that included a dental dam, condoms, lubricant, and sex and wellness information. Questions were thorough as a lot of students had questions about HIV and sexual health in general, like having children while positive, how to talk to their partners, treatment and protection.

Yingling said that Wellness Connection is there to support and aid students.

“The WC at the University is committed to supporting healthy lifestyle behaviors through programs which incorporate all aspects of wellness,” said Faith. “Comprehensive services include free HIV testing, online tools/assessments, and educational opportunities. Our main purpose is to provide education on general wellness, nutrition, sexual health, alcohol and sexual assault. These exciting and interactive programs are presented by health professionals and peer educators.”

Miller believes that wellness is universal.

“Wellness is for everyone,” said Miller. “Journalists can relate to social wellness, Psych has intellectual and so on. It’s for all majors. Student Wellness Network just strives to be multifaceted, holistic and for everyone.”

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