Several organizations on campus hosted events on Thursday during common hour in the Smith Center Commuter Lounge that were centered around World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day is an event held every year on Dec. 1. It has been held every year since 1988 and is the first-ever recognized global health day. According to the World AIDS Day website, globally there are 34 million people who have the HIV virus, and since being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, “making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.”
Renee Bateman, health promotion coordinator, said that the overarching goal on a local, campus level was to end the stigma and rethink HIV.
“It is an opportunity for SRU students, staff and faculty to show support and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV,” Bateman said.
Healthy Outreach through Peer Education (HOPE) has been providing information on World AIDS Day and educating students about the disease for over a decade. Other groups that provided information and activities included Pennsylvania Public Health Association – Collegiate Chapter (PPHA-CC), the President’s Commission for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation (GISO), Student Union for Multicultural Affairs (SUMA), the Women’s Center, Pride Center and Adagio Health.
“There are a wide range of other events that occur in support of World AIDS day,” Bateman said. “Therefore we are just happy to see the partnerships grow for each of the events. We would always love to see more students attend in support.”
Each organization had their own specified activities related to HIV education. Food and red awareness ribbons were available for all in attendance.
Bateman hopes that this event will create the awareness necessary to limit the impact of HIV for future generations.
“Distributing and wearing a red ribbon is one of the ways HOPE is showing support,” Bateman said. “There continues to be new HIV infections each year and education is an important component to preventing the spread of HIV.”
The involvement of the other student groups and organizations is encouraging Bateman and HOPE, who wish to see stigmas and discrimination against HIV become something of the past. They see the larger involvement as a step toward solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV.