World AIDS Day event promotes awareness and remembrance

    Student Health Advocates led the UCSD community’s recognition of World AIDS Day, officially marked on Dec. 1, by providing an informational booth on Library Walk and speakers on Nov. 26. Similar events around the local community have also been held to acknowledge this event, which kicks off a month of awareness and remembrance of those who have suffered because of AIDS.

    Rachel A. Garcia
    Guardian

    “”Some people think that AIDS doesn’t affect them,”” said Revelle College senior Lisa Lopez. “”This event shows that stuff like [AIDS] does exist.””

    SHA handed out red ribbons, buttons, pamphlets about the disease and free condoms. Students could pass by and grab the free items or ask booth workers any questions that they might have.

    “”HIV/AIDS is a pertinent issue with students,”” said Deborah Pino-Saballett, outreach coordinator and health educator at Student Health Services. “”This event is just a way of reminding people of prevention and to support those living with the disease.””

    Information was also provided to those seeking volunteer opportunities in organizations around the local community. In addition, a prevention quilt made up of cloth panels from the six UCSD colleges was set up for students to look at. The quilt included statistics and personal messages to those who suffer and have died from AIDS. At noon, Geisel Library played a bell tribute in honor of the event.

    “”There’s a lot of information about the disease,”” said Katie Martin, co-president for SHA. “”This event is a great opportunity to learn from people who are living with HIV and see that AIDS is out there.””

    Students were also encouraged to attend a lecture and listen to speakers who are living with HIV. The speakers talked about their experiences and discussed the importance of prevention and taking care of oneself. A video documentary was also played, which depicted teenagers who are HIV-positive talking about their hardships and goals. In the end, students were able to ask questions and interact with the speakers.

    “”Listening to an actual person makes the disease more real,”” said Revelle College senior Eva Barker. “”It’s been very informative hearing about people who are HIV-positive leading normal lives and going on with day-to-day activities.””

    According to the Center for Disease and Control Web site, there are 40 million people living with AIDS, and 95 percent of people with the disease are living in undeveloped and developing countries. California reported the second-highest number of residents who are HIV-positive in the entire nation.

    Some students commented on the seriousness of the issue and its importance to young adults today, since we are a generation that grew up amidst the rise of HIV/AIDS.

    “”Everyone’s getting it these days,”” said John Muir College senior Eric Lam. “”You never know when it’ll hit closer to home.””

    On the evening of Dec. 1, a tree-lighting ceremony to commemorate those who have died of AIDS was also held at the Village Hillcrest Retail Center in San Diego. This 11-year tradition was sponsored by Mama’s Kitchen, an organization that brings food to men, women and children affected by AIDS around San Diego County. Ornaments that can be personalized for a loved one are available for purchasing at participating Hillcrest stores throughout the month of December, with proceeds from these sales going to Mama’s Kitchen. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Office is one campus organization that supported the event.

    “”It is important that we recognize the devastation that AIDS has had on our world,”” said LGTBRO Director Shaun Travers. “”The tree-lighting ceremony, along with other incredible events, raises awareness, honors those who have passed and energizes people to find solutions to addressing the effects and causes of the disease.””

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