JESSICA HORTON Staff Writer

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are one million people living in the United States with HIV, the infection that causes AIDS, and approximately one-fourth of those infected do not even know they have it.

From the first known case of AIDS in the United States in 1981, to the 8,000 people who die daily from HIV/AIDS today, the disease has grown to epidemic proportions in some parts of the world. World AIDS Day is an event that encourages organizations and people worldwide to raise awareness about these diseases.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, the Tarleton Student Social Work Association (SSWA) will host a World AIDS Day event in Stephenville at the Tarleton State University Thompson Student Center.

“We've been working really hard on the event all year,” said SSWA president, Sarah McNeal, “and we're all really excited.”

McNeal has organized the event for two years and hopes that she can make people as aware about HIV/AIDS as they are about cancer.

The Student Social Work Association will be in room 22D from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with free condoms and AIDS testing, lots of information, and even a raffle.

There will be several booths set up throughout the room with information about different sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as well as a booth with free AIDS testing, which McNeal said she hopes students will take advantage of.

“No one thinks they should be tested for it (HIV/AIDS),” she stated. “When I talk to someone about getting tested for STDs it's no big deal, but when it comes to getting tested for AIDS they start backtracking really fast saying things like ‘oh I don't have to worry about that,' which really bothers me because it's just as easy to get and even more deadly.”

There will be a Red Raffle with tickets for sale for $1 each. The winner of the raffle will receive a basket with lots of red items to support HIV/AIDS research. The proceeds from the raffle will go to the organization that is providing the free HIV/AIDS testing.

“AIDS is such a new disease no one really thinks about it being as dangerous as it is,” McNeal said. “Hopefully, with events like this and others we can spread the word.”