World AIDS Day is December 1, and Northwestern is gearing up to offer events that will increase awareness and action on behalf of the student body. This year’s theme is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” Each year, various nonprofit organizations, government bodies, and individuals join together to design programming surrounding the theme and the facing one common goal: to see the end of HIV/AIDS. In the President’s proclamation about 2013’s day, he mentioned the 35 million individuals across the world who are currently living with HIV/AIDS. “If we channel our energy and compassion into science-based results,” he said, “an AIDS-free generation is within our reach.”
Feinberg School of Medicine is planning a day of activities at its downtown campus. For a complete schedule, see this link: https://globalhealthportal.northwestern.edu/events/feinberg-world-aids-day-activities.
On the Evanston campus, many organizations are pairing up to offer students opportunities for students to get involved. One such event is a combination advocacy & action opportunity, taking place on Monday, December 2nd, when students have returned to campus from Thanksgiving break. The first event, an opportunity to get a free HIV test, is sponsored by Asian Human Services, Inc. and will take place in Norris Student Center.
Later in the evening, students will have the opportunity to hear from guest speaker Tim’m West. West is a poet and hip-hop artist who, according to the event description, was moved to prepare what he thought was his final testimony when diagnosed with AIDS in 1999.
The programming for World AIDS Day at NU began when a few students who wanted to see something done at Northwestern approached Devin Moss, director of the LGBT Resource Center at Northwestern. The date presents some conflict due to students being out of town for break, but by pushing the activities to the next day, Moss hopes to eliminate conflict for students who haven’t yet returned to campus.
Moss first heard West speak while attending school at NYU, and when planning this year’s events, remembered the subject matter as something that would be relevant to life as a student. In a dream world, Moss says, all students would understand the importance of getting tested. He hopes that West will be a resource to help bridge the gap that often exists between university students and those who are HIV-positive. “I want them to understand the diagnosis that HIV positive people experience,” Moss explains, “and that we can all contribute to inclusion of another person.”
West will share his personal story about what’s it’s like to be HIV positive at 6pm at the NU Fiedler Hillel.
“He’s still human,” emphasizes Moss. “He’s still alive, still celebrating life. Being HIV positive isn’t the death sentence it used to be.”
“This an opportunity for everyone, whether positive or negative, to understand what it means to be positive, negative, get tested, or how to protect a partner,” Moss says.
The event is co-sponsored by the Student Advisory Committee for Global Health, the Polish-American Student Alliance, Queer Pride Graduate Student Association, The Center for Awareness, Response and Education, NU Red Cross, GlobeMed, Associated Student Government, Alianza, Sexual Health & Assault Peer Educators, Graduate Student Association, Asian Pacific American Coalition, AIESEC, and Rainbow Alliance.
For the flyer of the event, visit https://globalhealthportal.northwestern.edu/events/world-aids-day-free-hiv-testing.
Global efforts in recent years have been hopeful, but the HIV/AIDS epidemic is far from over. As Northwestern joins to recognize World AIDS Day 2013, please remember the 25 million who have died worldwide since 1981. Thousands of people are working year-round to bring the deaths down to zero, something that can hopefully be accomplished in our lifetime. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to any of the student organizations listed above.