Twelve student organizations will join together for World AIDS Day on campus today, offering students the chance to learn about HIV/AIDS and drawing attention to the millions of people it affects worldwide.
Groups such as African Awareness Student Organization (AASO), Health Professions Association, Queer Student Union and the American Red Cross will table in the Arbor [[from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to provide information to students about HIV/AIDS, hand out free condoms, answer questions and encourage students to get tested for HIV/AIDS at the Student Health Center. African Awareness Student Organization will also host a “Die-In” march and a “Day of Silence” event to acknowledge those who suffer from AIDS and those who have been killed by the disease, and the Health Professions Association is coordinating a raffle to benefit a local advocacy group for people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Student Health Center Health Educator Mark Shishim said the main goal of the World AIDS Day events is to teach students more about AIDS and safe sex. He said event coordinators will be happy if they can educate even one student about the disease.
“Our goal for the day is for one student to get tested,” Shishim said. “That one person is a success in our eyes because that one person and all of their future sexual partners have just that much more knowledge and health security.” During AASO’s “Die-In” march from noon to 3 p.m., participants dressed in black will march from Storke Plaza to the Arbor and then lie down to simulate the people who have died from AIDS. Third-year law & society and psychology major Cindy Njoku said the march is intended to call attention to the estimated 40 million people suffering and dying from AIDS.
The AASO is also organizing a “Day of Silence” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., during which students will refrain from speaking while they distribute cards explaining the event and display HIV/AIDS statistics to passers-by.
World AIDS Day organizers will host a raffle at 3 p.m. in the Arbor, the proceeds from which will benefit the Pacific Pride Foundation, a local organization providing services to locals with HIV/AIDS, and Camp Laurel, a Los Angeles camp for children with HIV/AIDS. Tickets for the raffle cost $1 each, and prizes include gift certificates and an iPod Nano — all of which were donated by the Health Professions Association.
Fourth-year cultural anthropology major and Student Health Center Sex and Relationship Intern Jason Feder said the two charities funded by the raffle are appropriate choices for the World AIDS Day event.
“We felt that these two organizations would be good to donate to because they are in our area and it’s good for everyone to realize that HIV/AIDS is a world problem – no one is safe,” Feder said.
According to a recent press release from the University of California’s AIDS Research Program, nearly 150,000 Californians are currently infected with HIV.
The best way to prevent the spread of AIDS is by educating people about the disease, Shishim said.
“Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to HIV/AIDS, because no one is immune,” Shishim said. “AIDS doesn’t discriminate.”
African American Student Organization began its World Aids Day activities yesterday with a concert in Storke Plaza featuring musical groups Vs. The World and My Life Story. Members also raised money at the event by selling food, donating the proceeds to Keep a Child Alive, an organization that builds houses in Africa.