UCSD Hosts World AIDS Day Commemoration on Campus

UCSD hosted a variety of events throughout campus in honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. The activities were meant to emphasize and raise awareness of the impact that HIV and AIDS have had on the San Diego community, the nation and the world.

Events commenced at 9 a.m. and concluded at 9 p.m., opening in the Price Center Ballroom East with the display of three sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a part of the NAMES Project Foundation that commemorates the lives of those who have been affected by AIDS. The sections of the quilt on display were ones contributed by San Diego organizations and individuals in response to the AIDS crisis, both in its early stages and in more recent years.

The quilt was also accompanied by photography that showcased the impact of AIDS on San Diegans currently living with the disease.

At 11:30 a.m., Eric Geiger, a professor of the theatre and dance department, performed his solo dance piece “I’M WITH YOU and something is happening” outside of the Triton steps in Town Center.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Library Walk hosted the HIV/AIDS Resource and Information Fair, put on by UCSD’s Student Health Advocates. Members of the Student Health Advocates set up booths on Library walk where they handed out information, answered questions about the disease and provided tips on safe sex.

The Student Health Advocates, with the help of Student Health Services Health Education, arranged the first recognition of World AIDS Day at UCSD in the early 1990s. The student organization has been involved ever since.

Sexual Health Lead Coordinator and Thurgood Marshall College senior Jessica Dinh told the UCSD Guardian that the day’s events are important in spreading awareness about the disease.

“People don’t realize that AIDS is still so relevant and that people from our age group of 13 to 25 are still being diagnosed,” Dinh said. “A lot of people that stop by the event are really influenced by it.”

Free and confidential HIV screenings were also offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Library Walk.

At 3 p.m., Dr. Ankita Kadakia from the UC Health System’s Owen Clinic spoke in the Cross-Cultural Center about Truvada, a new medication that combines two drugs that work within the T-cells of the immune system to block the HIV virus from spreading.

When paired with safer sex practices, Truvada can also be taken as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, to help prevent HIV infection among high-risk individuals.

The Owen Clinic, along with the Antiretroviral Research Center, is involved in ongoing studies that focus on the continued use of PrEP in certain populations, on getting newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS patients the care they need and on HIV medication adherence.

A series of talks by a panel of youths living with HIV, located in the John Muir Room in Price Center, and the Global Forum Panel discussing HIV/AIDS in the world today, located in the Great Hall of Eleanor Roosevelt College, occurred at 7 p.m.

At 8 p.m., UCSD’s co-ed a cappella group The Beat closed the AIDS Memorial Quilt display.

Further presentations took place throughout the day in each of UCSD’s Campus Community Centers regarding the intersection of HIV/AIDS with specific communities.

“UC San Diego is committed to educating next generation leaders, conducting innovative research and providing advanced patient care that transforms lives,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in a press statement released on Dec. 1. “UC San Diego’s recognition of World AIDS Day enables us to raise awareness about this devastating disease and our efforts to prevent, treat and combat it.”