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World AIDS Day: Student groups collaborate to spread awareness

| Contributing Reporter

On Thursday, four Washington University student groups are collaborating to promote awareness of World AIDS Day on campus.

The Washington University Undergraduate Public Health Association (WUUPHA), WUSTL FACE AIDS, Wash U H.O.P.E., Ashoka and GlobeMed are partnering to hold events across the Danforth Campus.

“We have a bunch [of events] planned,” GlobeMed co-president, junior Michael Harries said. “We’re painting the underpass. We’re flyering to draw awareness. We talked to Edison [Theatre], and their lights are going to be red all day and all night. We’re also handing out ribbons in the morning, which will be for the transmission rate of AIDS; we hope people will tie them to their backpacks.”

At 1:00 p.m., the groups will head to Mudd Field and distribute red balloons. Last year between 60 and 75 people stood in the shape of a ribbon for an aerial photograph. This year, Harries and senior Preethi Kembaiyan, the group’s other co-president, hope more than 100 will attend.

Kembaiyan said she was driven to get involved by her interest in public health.

“I came in pre-med and knew I was passionate about a lot of global health disparity issues…I started learning about a lot of [these issues] in the classroom but didn’t have the opportunity to act on what I was learning,” she said. “[GlobeMed] provided me with…a passionate group of students whose minds are on the same goal.”

“The solidarity of it is very powerful,” Harries said.

GlobeMed is the University’s branch of a 46-chapter national non-profit organization that focuses on improving the lives of impoverished people around the world. The chapter fundraises for the Uganda Developmental Health Association and sends four to six interns every summer to Uganda.

“Our main goal, though, is advocacy around campus,” Harries said.

Thursday, GlobeMed and its partner organizations plan to bring advocacy to the forefront.

“[HIV/AIDS] is an issue that is relevant to all of us, even though it might not seem immediately so,” Kembaiyan said.

Students think that that World AIDS Day on campus could have an effect on students’ awareness of HIV and AIDS.

Some say they were unaware of the day’s events.

“I didn’t even know World AIDS Day was happening. Maybe the school could do more to raise awareness,” said freshman Emily Attubato, “I think it’s great that there’s more awareness, now that people don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.”