SJSU to Zero: Combating HIV Stigma

SJSU to Zero is the first campaign to promote HIV prevention and combat stigmatization.

By SJSU Research Foundation

SJSU to Zero is the university’s first formal campaign to focus on both HIV prevention and HIV stigma reduction. Its message promotes the availability of screening for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections at the Student Health Center and at off-campus locations throughout Santa Clara County.

Peer health educators promoted SJSU to Zero during the College of Health and Human Sciences Health and Wellness Week in 2018. ( Josie Lepe/San Jose State University )

Peer health educators promoted SJSU to Zero during the College of Health and Human Sciences Health and Wellness Week in 2018. ( Josie Lepe/San Jose State University )

Led by Matthew Capriotti and Director of SJSU’s PRIDE Center and Gender Equity Center Bonnie Sugiyama, the campaign also seeks to create an environment where students feel at ease communicating about their sexual health.

“If our students are comfortable with hearing about and talking about HIV, it destigmatizes the disease and they are more likely to seek out testing and treatment,” explains Sugiyama.

SJSU to Zero student health educators spearhead the project. They table on 7th Street Paseo to educate students one-on-one, collaborate with other campuses to conduct joint events, and partner with SJSU instructors to create innovative assignments that infuse HIV education into course curricula.

Capriotti’s research focuses on the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as on the delivery of evidence-based treatments for Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders. Yet it is seeing his students become excited about this field of study that is the most rewarding part of his work.

“Our students genuinely care about this project. They enthusiastically engage in the day-to-day work of getting out there on campus and have turned our campaign from an idea to a reality.”

The SJSU to Zero project is sponsored by The Health Trust.