AIDS Week at St. John’s

Joel Goldman, diagnosed HIV positive in 1991, spoke to St. John’s students on Nov. 29 as part of World AIDS Week. The program was focused on Goldman’s college years and the reckless decisions that lead him to contracting HIV.

Goldman has worked as an HIV educator the last 15 years. He has traveled to 800 universities speaking about the disease. Goldman informs students of the risks and negative outcomes that drugs can cause and attempts to prevent others from following in his unfortunate footsteps.

During his college years in the 1980s, Goldman was a model student leader, fraternity chapter president, ladies man and social drinker. He also contracted HIV during this time. The pictures he showed consisted of trips, parties, women, mixers, and alcohol. The last slide showed a young Goldman with a hangover and a confused face. Goldman described that photo and its events in detail.

It was the day after a huge fraternity party and he had taken shots all night. The picture portrayed Goldman waking him up at 6 p.m. with no clothes on, a woman in his bed, and seven stitches in his leg. The worst part of it all, Goldman said, is that he had no recollection of that night. This type of behavior lasted throughout college and after, until Goldman discovered the virus seven years later.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. At the end of 2004, an estimated 70,133 people were living with HIV in New York State. The virus is spread through sexual activity, genetics, as from mother to child, sharing needles, and blood transfusions.

The program was sponsored by the Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs, Discover New York, Leadership Development and Campus Activities.

Goldman takes pride in sharing his story with students, whom he labels as the “the most educated generation ever.”

As Goldman stood in front of the audience of students, he repeatedly warned them that negative decisions made while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can last a lifetime.