For the last 21 years, on Dec. 1, men and women have gathered around the globe to help spread awareness for HIV/AIDS on World AIDS day.
Today, CSU does its part with a candlelight vigil, free AIDS testing and sign ups for a condom concoction competition, because event coordinators, regional experts and students alike said people are largely unaware of the effects and scope of the virus.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Lory Student Center, room 220, the Northern Colorado AIDS Project is providing students with free, confidential AIDS testing. A candlelight vigil will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Durrell red carpet room.
Jeremiah Johnson, who was personally infected by the virus, and Chris Grano, the NCAP prevention director, will speak about prevention at the vigil.
Along with these activities, today from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Association for Student Activity Programming is beginning registration for a condom concoction competition for which students can create “sculptures” from condoms to be judged and displayed on Dec 8.
“It is the one day of the year to take time to remember those who have lost lives,” said Shauna DeLuca, the coordinator of International Education and organizer of CSU’s World AIDS day.
“It’s really important for people of college age to be informed,” DeLuca said. “They think of themselves as invincible.”
DeLuca, who has been organizing the event for the last five years, also said AIDS is something that affects everyone indirectly, and students don’t realize that people in their community could have it.
She added that students don’t know nearly as much as they think they do about HIV/AIDS.
“All I know is that it’s a disease that kills a lot of people,” said sophomore business major Ben Carter. “People our age don’t take it as seriously they should.”
Carter added that even though he learned about the virus in school, the education didn’t focus on AIDS nearly as much as it did on sexually transmitted diseases.
“The dynamic is changing,” said Chris Grano, who will be speaking at the vigil. “Younger people weren’t around 25 years ago to watch their friends and neighbors die.”
Grano said that NCAP has its work cut out for it trying to get the younger population involved. It also hopes to be able to raise awareness for those living with HIV/AIDS in the community.
“The virus hasn’t gone,” Grano said. “We’re still fighting it.”
David Cooper, the chair of Colorado Organizations Responding to AIDS, said that the organization has become increasingly concerned with young people ages 18 to 25. Cooper added that this year, CORA has begun to try to connect with this demographic through art.
“The tendency is for people in the general public to think that everything has been taken care of,” Cooper said. “We need to remind people that it’s still a worldwide pandemic.”
Staff writer Matt Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.