Students recognize World AIDS Day

    Students recognized World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 at Price Center to commemorate those who have passed away from AIDS and to address the issue of the current AIDS epidemic. The recognition events were sponsored by Student Health Advocates.

    Carina Weber
    Guardian

    SHA celebrated the day by passing out information about safe sex, red ribbons for recognition and free condom roses in addition to displaying commemorative quilts and hosting speakers who live with HIV.

    “”I think we have the responsibility to ourselves to try to limit the epidemic, and one of the ways to do that is to monitor your behavior,”” said Adam Swenson, a John Muir College senior who attended the event. “”A lot of college students live in a way that is conducive toward spreading the virus. To act more responsibly is good, and [World AIDS Day] will help do that.””

    Quilts from the National Quilts and Names Project were displayed at Price Center Ballroom for students to view. The majority of the pieced quilts were contributions made from families and friends who have lost loved ones to AIDS.

    Carina Weber
    Guardian

    “”I think the quilt is really important. It’s a symbol of the AIDS epidemic, and it really is a weaving together of people’s lives,”” A.S. Commissioner of Diversity Affairs and event volunteer Stephanie Aguon said. “”That’s what AIDS does, it touches so many people from different backgrounds no matter what color or what age. It’s an epidemic that hit so many different communities, and it’s really poignant to see all these pieces put together.””

    SHA Co-President Chris Wong noted that the quilts were created to pay tribute to those who died of AIDS. A Prevention Quilt was pieced together last year by the six UCSD colleges.

    “”It’s basically just to get the word out and get more people involved,”” Wong said.

    Approximately 4.8 million new infections occur every year, and in 2002, 2.7 million people died of AIDS, according to the United Nations AIDS program.

    “”Obviously from the statistics, it is killing just as many people now than in the past, even more than the year before,”” SHA officer Shiva Kashani said.

    Students in attendance felt that the epidemic still remains an important issue for today’s youth.

    “”It’s still around, and it’s still an epidemic that hasn’t gone away,”” Aguon said. “”I think because it hasn’t gotten the hype it got in the 1980s and early 1990s, people are forgetting that it’s still out there. It’s still prevalent and it’s still very much alive.””

    Two speakers spoke at Price Center Ballroom, sharing their experiences of living with HIV. One speaker, who used the pseudonym Catherine Brown, spoke about being infected while a student at college 16 years ago. Brown decided to stay in college.

    “”What I say to students is never give up on goals or yourself no matter what the challenge is,”” Brown said. “”I’m very glad that I hung in there and finished my degree. It would have been very easy for me to give in to the disease and think I was going to die.””

    Brown reflected on her infection as a growth experience.

    “”What I have found out with myself with the process of the disease is that I’m a very determined person,”” she said. “”With my determination, I didn’t give up my hopes and dreams. I didn’t want to give AIDS any more power.”” 

    Brown urged students to practice safe sex.

    “”Don’t expect your partner to take care of you, it’s your job to take care of what happens to you,”” she said. “”If you have unprotected sex, do you trust your partner with your life? That’s what it comes down to, because a lot of people don’t know they’re infected.””

    SHA Co-President Stephanie Chavez said she felt students at UCSD ignore the issue.

    “”The scary thing about AIDS is that everyone thinks that it’s somewhere else, out of our college campus,”” Chavez said. “”People just don’t talk about it, and that’s why the speakers are so good because they can make students realize that it can happen to anybody.””

    Event sponsors hoped that increasing awareness of the consequences of unprotected sex would encourage students to make good decisions.

    “”There are a lot of college students who are having unprotected sex and it hasn’t been as much of a focus as it should be,”” Wong said.

    The event sponsors also highlighted the free and confidential HIV tests offered through Student Health Center.

    AIDS awareness events on campus continued throughout the week.

    On Dec. 2, a speaker from Mama’s Kitchen spoke at the Cross-Cultural Center about the organization, which delivers food and groceries to AIDS patients living in the San Diego community.

    On Dec. 3, “”And the Band Played On,”” a film about the initial onset of the epidemic in the United States, was shown at the Cross-Cultural Center.

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