Beginning last Wednesday, AIDS Week at UR hosted numerous events that examined many of the issues concerning the AIDS epidemic.
In 1988, the United Nations World Health Organization created World AIDS Day in hopes of raising awareness of the worldwide epidemic that HIV/AIDS has become. This year, World AIDS Day was recognized on Friday and AIDS Week at UR spanned from Wednesday, Nov. 29 to Saturday, Dec. 2.
AIDS Week’s first event kicked off on Wednesday with a reception for the poster exhibition by former professor at the UR School of Medicine and Dentistry Dr. Edward C. Atwater. “Vision-Life: AIDS Posters” was put on display in Hartnett Gallery and consists of posters from over 29 countries that reflect changes in perceptions of AIDS.
“Showing all of these posters from all over the world demonstrates that this is not just a problem in Africa – it is affecting people all over the world,” Undergraduate Director of the Hartnett Gallery Committee and senior Shannon Miller said.
On Thursday, an AIDS Vaccine Discussion Panel entitled “Let’s Talk About HIV” was held in the Gowen Room of Wilson Commons. The two speakers were Principal Investigator for the HIV Vaccine Trials Unit at URMC Dr. Michael C. Keefer and UHS Physician Sharon Glezon, with Action for a Better Community member Jsus Gutierrez as an additional speaker.
Vice President of both Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, Inc. and Community Service Network, junior Craig Brown had initially approached the Health Promotions Office, suggesting that they provide free HIV testing for World AIDS Day. At first, free HIV testing was the only goal, yet it expanded to also include spreading awareness.
On Friday afternoon, AIDS Rochester and ABC provided free HIV testing in Wilson Commons. However, time did not allow for all participants to be tested. As such, there will be another testing this semester and again in February.
“I think the events were an efficient way to make students aware of the new HIV vaccine and the testing services available at UHS,” Delta Gamma sorority President, URSHAC member and junior Rachel TenBrock said. “We were thrilled with the number of students who came to get tested and hopefully we will be able to do this testing more frequently on campus so students can begin to view HIV testing as a routine part of health care.”
Following the HIV testing was an African-themed AIDS Awareness Dinner held in Danforth Dining Center from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday with Ethiopian food.
To finish AIDS Week at UR, the UR Symphony Orchestra held a well-attended benefit concert in Strong Auditorium on Saturday. Although admission was free, student groups such as the Black Students’ Union and the D’Lions College Life Group collected a generous amount of donations to benefit AIDS efforts.
Other groups involved were Charles Drew Pre-Health Society, Amnesty International, Pride Network and ARAMARK.
“I cannot help but express joy for the success of the past week’s AIDS Awareness Week,” World AIDS Day coordinator and senior Feisal Adan said. “I feel AIDS Week created a buzz in the school and we could not hope for a better awareness campaign. I, myself, coming from Africa, I have seen the havoc the AIDS virus has caused and I cannot wait for the day we win the war against AIDS.”Halusic is a member of the class of 2010.