25 Stories: Colin Hammar
February 21, 2012
Many people in Colin’s generation haven’t lost friends or family to HIV thanks to new treatment options that significantly prolong life. “That’s going to be one of the changing factors of the younger generation born in the mid-80s and onward.” The sociology grad student thinks that this, coupled with the fear and stigma associated with the disease, has made many people distance themselves from the issue.
Colin also feels that there may be a cultural HIV white-washing. Many people perceive HIV/AIDS as a gay disease; that stigma still exists, though the most affected populations are changing. HIV is often introduced as an STD like any other, and Colin is frustrated that many schools do not teach that some genders, sexualities, and demographics are more at-risk. Often, the social history isn’t taught until college. This doubled-edged sword means that all populations are reached, but at-risk populations are losing out by not highlighting the history or reality.
It’s these attitudes and beliefs that inspired Colin to make a difference and become active on college campuses; he often brings in speakers and does educational prevention outreach.
“My work in my graduate program and my research has let me grab my own personal experiences…to be the voice and perspective [for the disease], which is traditionally left out in a lot of academic circles.”