AIDS not a singular disease, HU organizers say
At a World AIDS Day event at his Los Angeles high school, Devin Jones, then a junior, was introduced to a young girl who changed his perception about the disease.“She had never had sex but was infected by a needle at a clinic,” said Jones, chairperson of this year’s Hampton University World AIDS Day. “When I heard about it here [at HU], it was more of a gay, down low issue. But, I believe [AIDS] is more than that."
So, Jones, an HU senior, made sure the focus of World AIDS Day at HU Dec. 1 had an international feel. This year’s event was called “Going Global.” Throughout event day, free HIV testing was offered at the Student Health Center, as well as panel discussions at the Student Center, with local health officials, and the local HIV and AIDS awareness group ACCESS.
“I want to spread not only the awareness of HIV in the black community, but globally,” he said. The HU effort is part of a global recognition of AIDS, short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, throughout the world. World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1st. The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988. It provides governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic. HU organizers said the day was a chance to bring discussion about the disease to the forefront.
“A lot of students don’t take it seriously. It’s important that we made it big this year to let students know that it relates to them,” said Brittany Jones, a sophomore at HU, who wore a T-shirt designed for the day by HU Student Evan Mabury. It read, “EFF It Get Tested.”
Jones helped prepare for the event as part of the university’s student leaders and women’s caucus organizations. She and others decorated the student center in red and black, the event’s official colors, and hung statistics throughout the building about the disease, including the fact that black children are heavily affected by the disease. The United Nations notes that in 2007, more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV or AIDS, and of this number 2 million were children under the age of 15. According to the U.S. government, more than 1 million Americans are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
No matter who is being affected or where, AIDS is not an isolated issue, Jones said. Spoken word, singing, a vendor’s bazaar and a performance by the Terpsichorean Dance Company were part of the day’s events, which lasted until 9 p.m. Devin Jones, a marketing major, said he worked alongside co-organizer Sahlia Joseph-Pauline as well as the pre-alumni council and HU NAACP to plan the event.
“From little children in Asia to people in England,” he said. “I want to stop dealing with the problem individually, and start coming together to help other countries.”