Coalition raises awareness for World AIDS Day

The World AIDS Day Coalition will host lectures, workshops and a concert benefit.

by Emma Carew

The World AIDS Day Coalition’s weeklong events culminate Friday night with a concert to benefit Clare Housing, a local housing organization for HIV/AIDS patients.

Students from the Medical School, the College of Pharmacy and Schools of Nursing and Public Health have banded together to form the World AIDS Day Coalition and sponsored a series of lectures to raise awareness for World AIDS Day Saturday.

“Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the United States about services for HIV,” second-year medical student Jeremy Johnson said. “Basically if you look for it, it’s there.”

The students try to highlight local organizations involved with HIV/AIDS programming, such as the Red Door Clinic and Wake Up We-re Affected, he said.

where to go

World Aids Day Concert

Benefit Concert: New Congress, 2 Wurds and Gabriel James (Hosted by World AIDS Day Coalition
When: 8 p.m., tonight
Where: Picosa on St. Anthony Main

Aids Benefit: featuring Ms. Shoina from Cameroon (Hosted by African Student Association)
When: 6 to 8 p.m., tonight
Where: Coffman room 324

Blackout Affair: $15 Charity Event (Hosted by Black Student Union)
When: 10 p.m., Saturday
Where: Trocaderos

Wake up we-re affected fashion affair show: “Family Ties ñ Keeping the Promise”
When: 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: 3700 Bryant Ave. N.
For Tickets: (612) 600-9578

Don Anderson, co-founder of Wake Up We-re Affected, Wednesday was one of the speakers at Moos Tower.

“As an HIV-positive person, every day is World AIDS Day for me,” he said, which is why he tries to educate the community and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.

The students from the Academic Health Center schools will be the first people a patient will encounter during and after their HIV diagnoses, he said.

“They set the scale for how tough a time a person’s going to have when they get diagnosed,” Anderson said. “They have the power to make the journey easy or hard for a person.”

Anderson said his doctor originally said he only had six weeks to six months to live when he was diagnosed 10 years ago.

“Shows you how much he knew about HIV and AIDS,” Anderson said.

Christine Lambert, a second-year medical school student who does public relations for the World AIDS Coalition, said “getting rid of the stigma” surrounding HIV and AIDS is one of the coalition’s goals for the week.

“It’s a disease that affects so many people,” she said, “and you don’t have to be afraid to share a bathroom with them or give them a hug.”

Lambert said although the number of AIDS patients in Africa decreased for the first time this year, “one of our main focuses is making sure people are aware of how many challenges still exist.”

Students from Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education will be tabling in Coffman Union today and passing out free AIDS Day ribbons, Emily Matson, co-chairwoman of SHADE, said.

“Sometimes I think people forget about (HIV/AIDS) because it’s not really a death sentence as it used to be in the U.S.,” she said. “But there still are people living with HIV/AIDS; it’s about supporting them, supporting awareness and bringing more attention to the issue.”

Johnson said one of the reasons the World AIDS Day Coalition formed is because “what we get in school is a lot of the hard science.”

HIV/AIDS is a multifaceted disease, he said, and there is more to treating it than just the medicine.

Anderson said he likes coming to the programs at the University because of the great questions asked by the students.

“When people ask questions, we get to apply the knowledge (that we have),” he said. “If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything.”

Anderson said any student could get involved with HIV/AIDS awareness, with things as simple as putting out bowls of condoms at a party with HIV/AIDS information.

“Each one has got to teach one,” he said. “You gotta tell somebody.”