Health fair raises AIDS awareness

In anticipation of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Student Health Services and campus groups held a health fair Tuesday to remind students that HIV is more relevant now than ever.

The fair marked the first of a series of events – including a lecture, a candlelight vigil, a panel discussion and a charity dinner – sponsored by campus groups as part of USF’s AIDS Awareness Week.

Anyone walking by the MLK Plaza received a red ribbon in support of HIV-positive men and women who have died and those who continue to live with the disease. Students who participated wrote encouraging messages on the ribbons and then pieced them together in a quilt-panel, which will hang in the SHS Annex.

At the end of 2005, an estimated 38.6 million people worldwide were living with AIDS. The disease has killed more than 25 million people since 1981. Florida has consistently ranked among the top three states in the nation in reported AIDS cases.

Jordan Markel, president of the Student Global AIDS campaign at USF, said Tuesday’s event drew more support from the student body than health fairs for AIDS awareness in previous years.

“Last year there were events leading up to World AIDS Day; however, nothing significant,” he said. “This year, we have local professionals presenting their perspectives about HIV and AIDS (in an effort) to motivate action both locally and worldwide.”

In addition to the Student Global AIDS Campaign, the Medical Ethics Society, Crosswinds and the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism also sponsored the event, which featured free HIV Testing and information about local resources for HIV.