College Students Get a Dose of HIV Reality

Scott Fried stood in jeans and a long-sleeved denim shirt rolled to his elbows. The lecturer stunned more than 2000 students at the college’s south campus auditorium by announcing “HIV is in this room right now.” The hundreds of students solemnly glanced around the room. “You’re looking at it,” Fried continued. “We’re all living with it; we have to find a way to embrace it so we don’t turn our heads in fear.” Since 1992, he has been traveling the world talking about AIDS and other life-challenging issues and told the students to care about themselves. “You have to say, ‘I am worth more than this.’ It’s your life,” Fried instructed. “No one can protect it better than you.”

Fried ended the evening by showing a brief film containing photographs of friends who have died from AIDS, accompanied by a song he recorded for the occasion. He explained that the photos represented only a few of his 131 friends who have died from AIDS.

Sue Curry, a student and HIV peer educator, praised Fried’s straightforward style. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I think he was one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. He’s very blunt and honest and that’s what we need.” Many other students agreed. “He grabs people’s attention,” said Alex Scalar, 19, of Florida. “You can tell when a person is saying something from the heart. He gave me that little bit of strength I needed.”