FACE AIDS, GV departments to recognize World AIDS Day

Courtesy Photo / Jolynn Zirnhelt
Jolynn Zirnhelt and Christopher Chyba tie ribbons on a tree located on campus for World AIDS Day

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Jolynn Zirnhelt Jolynn Zirnhelt and Christopher Chyba tie ribbons on a tree located on campus for World AIDS Day

Krisy Force

This year various departments at Grand Valley State University are recognizing World AIDS Day, which will occur Thursday, by hosting events and selling T-shirts to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic.

“(World AIDS Day) is an annual event that shines a bright light on AIDS awareness,” said senior Heather Parros, head of promotions for the FACE AIDS student organization.

FACE AIDS, an organization aimed at promoting AIDS awareness on campus, is currently selling T-shirts in the Kirkhof Center for $12. The front of the shirt says “You don’t know who they did last summer” and the back says “Protect yourself.” The FACE AIDS ribbon is also placed on the back of the shirt.

“Any money from our chapter gets sent to the National FACE AIDS chapter,” said GVSU senior Jolynn Zirnhelt, president of FACE AIDS. “It then gets dispersed to the Adopt-A-Health-Center campaign.”

The organization will also host confidential HIV screenings and place red ribbons throughout campus in recognition of the World AIDS Day.

The HIV screenings will take place Wednesday on the Pew Campus. The screenings will be held in rooms 207E and 213E of the DeVos Center from noon to 3 p.m.

“There are other STDs that are curable, but this one has no cure,” Parros said. “It is important to prevent it before you contract it. If you’re having sex, you need to be aware that you are susceptible to it.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are 1.2 million people in the U.S. who are living with HIV, and one in five people are unaware that they have it.

“Most people don’t realize it’s going on here,” Zirnhelt added. “It’s just sad that people don’t care. People in the U.S. can live their entire life with AIDS. America doesn’t think about it as a problem even though AIDS is a big epidemic in the world right now.”

In addition to the FACE AIDS organization’s work, the LGBT Resource Center, the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs are also partnering with the Red Project, a non-profit Grand Rapids organization, in order to put on two events on World AIDS Day.

The first event, “The Criminalization of HIV/AIDS”, will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m. in Room 215 of the Eberhard Center on the Pew Campus.

Colette Seguin Beighley, director of the LGBT Resource Center, said this event focuses on the impact of the laws that criminalize HIV transmission.

“Since studies have shown that these laws do not deter behavior, this program critiques the paradoxical impact these laws have,” Beighley said.

The second program, “Harm Reduction,” will follow.

“It will provide a systemic analysis of harm reduction programs and examine who really benefits from this kind of intervention,” Beighley added.

The Kent County Health Department will be providing free, confidential HIV testing, on Thursday as well. The screenings will occur on the Pew Campus.

The CDC reported that in 2009 there were an estimated 6,237 diagnoses of HIV in persons aged 20 to 24 in the U.S.

Parros and Zirnhlet said students should consider getting tested even if they are in a committed relationship. They also invited those interested to get involved in AIDS awareness.

“Students can get involved in health centers, come to campus events or join FACE AIDS,” Parros said.

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