7 million people have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS since the end of 2018.
To honor those affected by HIV/AIDS, the Office for Inclusive Exclusive (OIE) co-sponsored with the President’s Commission on Race, Equity and Diversity for the annual Red Ribbon Monologues.
The event was a night of remembrance and awareness to those impacted by HIV/AIDS, accrediting its own day of remembrance, World Aids Day on Dec. 1, a day honored by all countries in the United Nations.
Approximately 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. Corinne Gibson, the Director for the Office of Inclusive Excellence sees World Aids Day as an opportunity to show solidarity with those living with HIV.
“Each year, people are diagnosed with HIV,” Gibson said. “[The people] don’t know the facts about how to protect themselves and others. The stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with this condition.”
Gibson reminded those that a way to encourage the government to still fund money for HIV awareness and education is to keep the conversation active.
To fight the stigma, poems by those experiencing or who had experienced life with HIV were read by students and faculty to spread awareness and education through their stories.
Gibson began the night by sharing the poem “HIV/AIDS,” setting the mood of remembrance for the night with the line:
“We honor our brothers and sisters/Who didn’t survive that fight./We salute and support the survivors/Whose life turned out alright.”
Following Gibson’s reading was “What Head Did You Use” read by Khalil Harper and other poetry about living with HIV/AIDS through the eyes of a child.
Although poetry was not the only literature being shared at the monologues. Monique Alexander, a professor of education and elementary early childhood, read an excerpt from a research article about the ethics of the growing HIV/AIDs epidemic.
The night was divided by a short intermission where students and faculty enjoyed refreshments and a performance from Rock Royalty.
The poems following the break focused on when the author found out they had HIV, ranging from a false positive diagnosis to receiving the disease through sexual violence from her husband.
Following the monologues, students, faculty and staff engaged in an interactive “Did You Know?” quiz game about education and misconceptions of HIV/AIDS.
Much like Gibson and those in attendance, Lyosha Gorshkov, the assistant director of the Women’s and Pride Center, agrees that more awareness should be spread about HIV/AIDS.
“I hope that people are aware that some people die because of bad politics, good politics, but we can change” Gorshkov said. “We can be help and support for those people who are struggling. We can push the government to produce more and more awareness.”
More than 35 million people have died from HIV/AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
To help show support for those who have lost their lives, are struggling or have struggled with HIV/AIDS, a red ribbon is worn to symbolize awareness and solidarity of those with HIV/AIDS.