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Monday, December 10, 2018

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Dec. 1 is World Aids Day. Dec. 1 is World Aids Day.

Recognizing World AIDS Day

To help commemorate World AIDS Day, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will make a stop at San Diego State University on December 1 and 2.
By Mallory Black

San Diego State University is recognizing World AIDS Day, a global day dedicated to raising awareness of HIV and remembering those who have died, with a two-day campus event.

Sponsored by the One SDSU Community initiative, The Pride Center, The Center for Intercultural Relations, and Student Life and Leadership will host sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt for viewing in Montezuma Hall on December 1 and 2 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. to serve as a stark reminder of those who died during the 1980s AIDS pandemic.

More than 48,000 panels make up the handmade traveling quilt, honoring more than 94,000 lives lost as a result of AIDS, a syndrome caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which attacks the immune system, making it harder to fight off diseases and infections.

Dean of Students Randall Timm said while most college students today might be too young to remember the AIDS pandemic, seeing ithe quilt with their own eyes might help students visualize the intersecting economic, political and social issues occurring at the time.

“The AIDS Memorial Quilt puts a human face on what was then a major world issue that still continues today,” Timm said. “It no longer just affects one community–it affects all communities. For a lot of people, this quilt will bring up a lot of memories and emotions, and we want students to remember that time and the people who were affected by it.”

Raising awareness

Today, across the U.S., more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with about 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Globally, an estimated 35 million people have died from HIV or AIDS since it was discovered in the early 1980s, making it one of the deadliest pandemics in history.

While there is no cure for AIDS, HIV testing can improve health outcomes by linking people to care earlier and preventing new infections. Eric Walsh-Buhi, co-director of SDSU’s Center for Research on Sexuality and Sexual Health, said the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS is one of the many factors preventing people from getting tested, but added it’s not who you are that puts you at risk, it’s what you do.

“Because HIV is such a critical lifelong condition with serious health impacts, people should know their status with regard to HIV infection,” said Walsh-Buhi, also a public health professor in SDSU’s Graduate School of Public Health. “College students may not feel at risk for HIV, but we know generally for STD infections that the most at-risk group is young people between the ages of 14 and 25, so HIV testing in particular is very important.”

As part of the World AIDS Day events, The Pride Center will offer free HIV testing for students on December 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the film “The Normal Heart” and a discussion will take place on December 1 at 5 p.m.

“Radiant Presence,” a digital slideshow by arts group Visual AIDS, will also be broadcast in Montezuma Hall alongside the quilt, featuring images by artists living with HIV/AIDS and those who have lost their lives to it.

Arthur Alvarez, a graduate student who coordinates programming for The Pride Center, said each event is meant to serve as a an opportunity to remember and support those living with HIV and AIDS, and build awareness around the importance of getting testing.

“We are all caught up in our daily lives, but this quilt gives us two days to dedicate our attention to one specific cause,” Alvarez said. “It’s a powerful, visual message for students who will hopefully walk away thinking not only about the past but the present, and what we can do about it now.”

Visit the One SDSU Community website for more information.