Knowledge is power, lifesaving power according to long-time AIDS survivor Cindy White. She said that's why she speaks to others about preventing and treating HIV/AIDS.
"The key for me is to empower them with enough information so that they may choose to go and get information before they make a decision that could change their lives," White said.
The Nebraska native recounted her experience of living with AIDS to a group of students and community members at Hastings College Friday.
White said her goal is to break the stigma surrounding the disease so people are more willing to get tested and treated.
"Treatment is prevention is the truth. You can not only save yourself a lot of physical illness, but you protect those around you when you know your status," she said.
White also spoke of losing her sight and other complications of the disease, as well as told stories of outward discrimination she faced.
AIDS activists said open dialogue about HIV/AIDS can be especially difficult in Nebraska, where religious beliefs can be barriers.
"There's a lot of stigma that hold people back and make them skeptical and not want anything to do with any education, and that's the problem," said Aaron Geringer, a Hastings College student who is part of the Peer HIV Education Organization on campus.
White was infected in the early 1980s by her then-boyfriend and said she hopes her story will help others remember that it can happen to them too.
"Young people of today, they've been given the information. So now it's about them, in the heat of the moment, making that decision, is this one moment worth it?" White said.
World AIDS Day is December 1, and a service will be held at Kearney's Faith United Methodist Church on Saturday at 4 p.m.