Sorrow and hope marked the eighth annual World AIDS Day commemoration Monday. The University’s observance was quiet, as the weather and the specter of finals put a damper on campus activities.
World AIDS Day officially took place Sunday, but Boynton Health Service observed it Monday to increase awareness and participation in events. This year’s activities were quiet in comparison to those in the past, as organizers handed out ribbons and displayed multimedia educational resources.
Last year, an AIDS awareness concert was held at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, and organizers tied red ribbons on structures and trees across campus. Dave Dorman, community program coordinator at Boynton Health Services, said that this year people’s minds are not on World AIDS Day because it is the last week of classes.
“The activities this year are smaller and simpler,” Dorman said.
World AIDS Day was first held in 1988 to raise awareness of the disease, educate the public on prevention, and memorialize the victims of HIV and AIDS.
Boynton Health Service’s Sexual Health Awareness and Disease Education program handed out red ribbons, a symbol of AIDS awareness, and displayed the University panel of the national AIDS quilt at the Weisman Art Museum. The panel had names of people who attended the University and have died from AIDS.
AIDS prevention literature was also available at the museum.
Josie O’Gara, co-coordinator of the sexual health program and World AIDS Day events at the University said that AIDS and HIV touch many students and staff at the University and in Minnesota.
According to figures provided by Minnesota AIDSline, a statewide volunteer organization that helps people infected with HIV, the reported number of AIDS cases in Minnesota as of Nov. 1 was 2,948. AIDSline estimates that 28 million people worldwide are infected with the AIDS virus.
An AIDSline representative also said, as of July 1, that 548,000 cases of infection with the AIDS virus have been reported in the United States.
It is just these sort of numbers that Boynton representatives wanted to get across at Monday’s activities.
“Generally people have been quite supportive of the events,” O’Gara said, “We also sold pieces of the (University AIDS) quilt to commemorate.”
The University panel of the AIDS quilt contained pieces with messages of hope such as “AIDS is not a death sentence, it is an excuse to live,” and “Wrap yourself in hope.”
Twenty-two students and staff members gathered for a poetry reading and a screening of the documentary “Common Threads,” which is about the AIDS quilt, in the William G. Shepherd Room at the Weisman.
Boynton officials had planned to hold a candlelight vigil Monday morning on Northrop Plaza, but the wind blew out the candles and the event was cancelled.
World AIDS Day was commemorated around the world Sunday with candlelight ceremonies and protests. In the United States, protesters in cities from New York to Los Angeles called for more funding for AIDS research.