The face of AIDS - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The face of AIDS

Posted: Updated:

February 7, 2008

Albany --  AIDS kills more black people worldwide than any other disease, but the virus affects all races, genders, and age groups.

As part of national black HIV-AIDS Awareness Day, students at Albany State University got a straight shooting lesson on the deadly disease.

At times, her message about safe sex seems like a comedy routine, complete with laughs from the audience.

"If this does not fit, he does not need a condom." But Cathy Robinson-Pickett didn't come to Albany State University to entertain, she's here to educate.

"AIDS doesn't discriminate," she said. "It doesn't care what color you are and there's the perception that it's got to be an African American man out of prison or an IV drug user or those kind of things and those stereotypes are really what cause the disease to spread."

And she should know. As a wife and mother with another child on the way, Robinson certainly never thought that both she and her husband could be HIV positive. "My hope is that when people meet me, I break all those stereotypes."

In 1984, when little was known about the disease, Robinson was raped by a man who was infected. She unknowingly passed it along to her husband. But doesn't want others to go through the same hell she's been through.

"These are the kids who are making those life changing decisions right now and that message of self-esteem and respecting themselves is so important and that's what I hope they get," she said.

And apparently that message is taking root. Peer Educator Jamilah Carter said, "It's something that's universal no matter what color you are, no matter what race you are, no matter your age group. It's something everybody needs to be aware of and take seriously."

"It's very important that we take the initiative to protect ourselves," said ASU Senior Marlon Taylor. "Respect ourselves and if we chose to have sex, to use protection, take every measure that's possible."

Because it's not who you are that determines if AIDS will affect you, it's what you do to make sure you're protected.

Both of Cathy Robinson's children are free of HIV.

Learn more at these websites recommended by Robinson-

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=FaceOfAIDS-KC