In 1981, when AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) was just beginning to immerge in the United States, the problem was met with confusion by medical professionals and apathy by politicians. Gay men were the first patients of the disease, leading to its original name, GRIDS (Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Syndrome). It wasn\’t until the mid-eighties that AIDS became too great of a problem to be ignored; no one could deny that HIV/AIDS was beginning to infect straight men and women any longer. The disease spread even further, and containment was no longer a possibility. Apathy led us to today, when an estimated 410,000 people are living with HIV and more than 500,000 have died from AIDS-related causes in total. And that\’s only in America.
The worst global effects have been on the African continent. In sub-Saharan Africa, the UN estimated in 2004 that 7.5% of the population was infected with HIV. This doesn\’t even take into southern Africa, where the infection rates in countries like Botswana, South Africa can be anywhere from 20 to 38 percent. Most victims are women, who can be subject to sexual violence and usually have little control in their sexual relations for various, cultural, economic, and religious reasons. Now 25.4 million people, at least, are infected in Africa.
December 1st, World AIDS Day, was about recognizing personal responsibility and honesty in our own relationships with each other, acknowledging the deaths of those that we once ignored, and remembering our social responsibility to do everything we can to keep people aware of a universal problem. Today we live in a global community. Don\’t let apathy be our ruler.
[treehug]Volunteers from the Circle K, East Lansing high schools, MSU and others got together to tie red ribbons around trees on campus on November 30 in preparation for World AIDS day. Each of the 1000 ribbons is representative of 500 AIDS related deaths in the United States, and each ribbon has the name of one victim on it. The ribbons could be found all across campus, from the dorms to Wells Hall.
[therock1]There was, of course, one exception to tying the ribbons around trees. Family Community Service Junior Erica Phillipich (left), Psychology Junior Michele Urban (right) and Electrical Engineering Junior Brian Wendling (not pictured) tied two ribbons together to cover an MSU idol.
[anonymous3]Olin Health Center offered free, anonymous walk-in testing from noon to 4 PM for all MSU Students. Anyone can still get tested for free by appointment in room 371 of Olin. You will be greeted with a short quiz (no worries; you don\’t get graded) on your HIV/AIDS knowledge before meeting with a Health Counselor and discussing your sexual history. The test will be administered, and then you usually recieve results within the next week.
[anonymous2]For the squeamish, the test can be administered orally instead of by the usual blood draw.
[jolie1]At the Hannah Community Center, Mayor Pro Tem Vic Loomis delivered a proclamation that we would work together as a community to continue to fight against the AIDS epidemic.
[jolie3]About 200 people attended the gathering against HIV/AIDS.
[Meredith2]The day was capped off with a benefit concert at the Temple Club in Lansing. The Hard Lessons, The Cassionauts and the Recital all performed. Around the concert were booths set up for Sex Jeopardy and other games set up by Olin Health Advocates. Condoms were free and readily available to everyone that showed up.
[THL3] The Hard Lessons.
[quilt1]Kresge Art Museum hosted a section of the AIDS Quilt. Family and loved ones of those that have died of AIDS present patches to be added to the quilt all the time, and part of it is distributed globally on World AIDS Day. Another section of the quilt was also at Hannah.
[quilt2]One piece of the quilt is dedicated to all \”past and future victims\” of AIDS. Part of the quilt at the Hannah Community Center says, \”The Sea Was So Wide, My Boat Was So Small,\” dedicated to \”all who died alone.\”