Students might have shown up for the free pizza, but the knowledge they received at the Auraria World AIDS Day event was priceless.
Community and student organizations partnered with the Health Center at Auraria to mark the 30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS and the 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day Dec. 1.
Upon entry to the Multicultural Lounge, students were given a bingo type card which they could have stamped by each of the various stations manned by different organizations. Completed cards could be redeemed for pizza. The seriousness of the HIV/AIDS subject was countered by a fun and inviting atmosphere.
“I just think that it’s good to let people know about AIDS because it’s very serious and I like the fact that all three schools here on Auraria are participating and making people aware,” said Alejandra Lujan, a Metro sophomore. “Even though it’s such a serious topic, people become more comfortable with it and they’re not afraid, they’re just more out there about it.”
Among the stations presented by the Health Center was “Condom Sense,” which distributed information on the different types of condoms available, both male and female. At the “Let’s Talk” station, visitors drew cards containing questions about common misconceptions pertaining to safe sex. “Show Me” was a station where visitors could receive a demonstration and advice on how to properly apply and use condoms or lubrication as well as what to be aware of when checking the packaging of a condom.
Among the outside organizations taking part were the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services office and Project Angel Heart, an organization that delivers meals to approximately 850 people suffering from life threatening illnesses.
“It’s important because the AIDS issue is definitely still an issue, and our services directly coordinate with that,” said Keegan Kuhlmann, volunteer resource coordinator with Project Angel Heart. “With the AIDS background that we do have, this is a great opportunity for us to get our name out.”
While visiting the various presentation tables, participants could text their answers to questions about the best way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS that would then be projected onto a “Poll Anywhere” screen.
In spite of the awareness raised by events like World AIDS Day, nearly 50,000 individuals contract HIV/AIDS in America each year, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Maria Lopez from the Denver HIV Resources Planning Council and Anthony Stamper from the Denver office of the Department of Environmental Health were present answering questions and clearing up myths about HIV/AIDS.
“I think venues like this and activities where you’re with students or in any type of community event is a great way to get the message out,” Stamper said. “There are a number of people who have actually engaged us and asked some really intriguing questions.”
With a disease like HIV/AIDS that can have deadly consequences, the knowledge and information shared at the World AIDS Day could be life saving.
“We have been beneficial in addressing some of those misconceptions but I think overall hopefully we’re getting some message out [so] people will get tested and know their HIV status,” Stamper said. “More importantly though, is to practice safe sexual activities.”