Carmel Kelly's brother was dying of AIDS before anyone even knew he was HIV positive.
"He was on a breathing tube for two weeks," said Kelly, a graduate student from the UMass School of Public Health. "But they put him on medication and he was able to survive. They were able to pull him back."
Since then, Kelly has made HIV/AIDS education a priority in her life. She was on the HCC campus Friday, December 2, for HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, distributing literature, handing out candy, condoms and red ribbons in the hallway outside the Student Activities office.
Throughout the morning there was a steady stream of students stopping by Kelly's table.
"Do I have to be HIV positive to wear a ribbon?" asked one student.
"No," said Kelly. "It's just to raise awareness."
Megan Griffin, a graduate of the UMass School of Public Health, who was also on campus promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, noted that 73 percent of college students haven't had an HIV test. "That's a lot," she said. "I think that's way too high."
Griffin said a lack of education and fear that keeps people from being tested.
"A lot of people are just scared of getting tested," she said. "By getting the information out there, w're trying to show people it shouldn't be stigmatized."
The HCC event was sponsored by HCC Student Activities, which also invited staff from Tapestry Health to perform free HIV tests in the HCC Health Services office.
"I think what we're doing today at HCC is terrific," Griffin said, "bringing the testing here."
Left photo: Carmel Kelly, a graduate student from the UMass School of Public Health, pins a red ribbon on HCC student Evelyn Garay, in honor of HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.