Across the globe, people observed and celebrated the World AIDS Day on December 1 to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, decrease stigma of being HIV-positive or living with AIDS, and to encourage testing.

Rihanna and Prince Harry were both HIV tested on camera during a visit to her birth island Barbados. Seeing the RED episode of Jimmy Kimmel or seeing a completely RED iTunes might have prompted one to investigate into this moniker. RED is defined as a licensed conglomeration of brands that “seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa.”

Raising funds and awareness has encouraged progress in HIV/AIDS research in 2016 which Huffington Post noted as “a banner year for HIV/AIDS Research.” Highlights include the exoneration of “Patient Zero, a National Institute of Health (NIH) discovery that could lead to an HIV vaccine, and a drug on the market for unrelated diseases may work as an HIV suppressant.

Hollywood also sought to emphasize that there needs to be stories that speak to the continuing epidemic of HIV/AIDS that disproportionately affect African-Americans today. When people living with HIV or AIDS tell their stories, the disease and the virus become less stigmatized. Aljazeera posted an article entitled “Living with HIV: ‘There is nothing to fear” and Upworthy posted a poignant comic with 10 people explaining what it is like to live with HIV.

In Georgia Tech’s backyard, Atlanta has infection rates that rival developing countries who struggle to control HIV/AIDS epidemics with Emory University Center for AIDS Research co-director Dr. Carlos del Rio stating that Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban. For more information about Atlanta statistics regarding HIV/AIDS, visit AIDSVu.

For more information on receiving HIV testing, please visit www.aidatlanta.org. There are free rapid HIV tests offered on site. Georgia Tech also offers free rapid testing every semester.

-Kristin Liu

The Problem with BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to categorize an individual into one of the following four categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. BMI calculations use height and weight measurements to calculate a BMI number – high BMIs supposedly being an indicator of high levels of body fat. However, this calculation is flawed as it does not take into account body fat versus muscle weight in the calculation; therefore, people may be labeled as overweight or obese, yet they are actually athletic and healthy. One study even found that over half of individuals labeled as overweight by BMI actually had a healthy cardiometabolic profile and 1/3 of individuals labeled as “normal” had an unhealthy cardiometabolic profile.

Using this flawed system may be problematic, especially among adolescents and young adults, as many individuals already suffer from low body image and self-esteem due to pressure to fit the “ideal” body standard. One 8th grader, who had suffered from body image issues in the past, took a stand against an assignment where students were required to calculate and report their BMI to the class. Instead of completing the assignment, she wrote an inspiring essay describing why BMI is inappropriate and shouldn’t be used to label students’ health status.

Her essay goes on to say that:

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a “bigger girl,” and I’m completely fine with that; I’m strong and powerful. When you put a softball or a bat in my hand they are considered lethal weapons.”

She explains that she has had severe body image issues in the past – to the point where she wrapped her body to compress her fat so she would look skinnier. However, after visiting a doctor, he explained while she is a “bit overweight,” she is active and healthy and he is not at all worried about her health.

She concluded with this powerful sentiment that all young women and men should remember:

“I am just beginning to love my body, like I should, and I’m not going to let some outdated calculator and a middle school gym teacher tell me I’m obese, because I’m not.”

So remember, don’t let society tell you that your body makes you less than.

By Sarah London