The Student Union for Multicultural Affairs (SUMA) presented their Annual Red Ribbon Monologues Monday night in the ballroom. The monologues are held to educate the community of SRU for National AIDS Awareness Month.
The evening consisted of a dance, music, poems, and a guest speaker. The beginning of the event was kicked off with a dance performance called “D-man in the waters”. This performance was produced in 1989 and played homage to a member of the Arnie Zane Dance Company, Demian Acquavella who was affected by HIV/AIDS.
Throughout the evening there were also poems that were recited all centered around the theme of HIV/AIDS. Some of the chosen poems consisted of “Coffee Break”, written by Kwame Dawes, “Dandelions”, written by Mary Bowman, and many more.
The night ended with a guest speaker, Bart Rauluk, a Pittsburgh native who is living with HIV. Rauluk currently works as controller and director of clients services for the PR firm Veritas Communications Advisors.
Alongside his job, Rauluk spends a large amount of time volunteering with non-profit organizations and has served seven years as President, Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and is currently President of the Board of the AIDS Leadership for Prevention and Health Awareness (ALPHA) Pittsburgh.
Rauluk was first diagnosed with HIV in 1988 and has lived HIV positive for up to 30 years since then. “I spent 20 years of my life trying to figure out what to do next,” Rauluk said.
Rauluk said that he has had three dentists turn him away as a patient, after finding out that he was HIV positive.
“[To approach someone with HIV] have some respect, be clear about your position on AIDS/HIV, and be compassionate,” Rauluk said.
Josiah Cole, senior biology major with minors in public health and chemistry is President of SUMA. As President, Cole helped pick the poems read at the events, greet people, contact professors, and much more. Last year, Cole was Vice President and told the history of HIV at the 2017 event.
Cole said that in the previous years, SUMA reached out to the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force to get in touch with a speaker for the event.
“[The story of living with HIV] is really important for people to hear because there is this thing where people think that ‘this will never happen to me’,” Cole said. “If you got the disease 30 years ago you were going to die. Today we have lots of treatment and we know so much more about [HIV/AIDS] so there’s so many things we can do to support people that get HIV.”
“You have to become a friend with your disease,” Rauluk said. “HIV is a journey, expect to have struggles.”
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