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Tufts to recognize World AIDS Day

Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 07:12

AIDS

Daily File Photo

Students recently called for a bigger celebration of World AIDS Day, according to organizers of this year’s events. Above, students participate in a 2004 AIDS vigil.

The Tufts community today will hold a daylong celebration in honor of World AIDS Day,  an international effort to raise awareness of the disease and its impact.

The event will include free HIV testing for students, activities in the Mayer Campus Center to raise awareness, and an evening performance featuring student groups and a speaker from the Cambridge-based HIV education group Youth On Fire.

The HIV tests will be administered in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Center by The MALE Center, a Boston-based organization geared toward providing resources for gay and bisexual men.

An evening performance will feature performances by various student performance groups, including the percussion group B.E.A.T.S., the dance group Sarabande, Tufts Belly Dance, the all-female a cappella group Essence, Social Justice Arts Initiative and students associated with Pen, Paint and Pretzels' (3Ps) Over the Rainbow, a theater production centered on AIDS awareness.

This year's Tufts celebration of World AIDS Day, sponsored by the Leonard Carmichael Society (LCS), will be the most extensive commemoration ever held for the event at Tufts, according to junior Priya Larson, a co-coordinator of the day's events. Recognition for the day has in previous years been limited to dining hall tabling, she said.

"We wanted to do something special at Tufts, whereas in the past few years, it's been really small," Larson said.

The expansion of the event was driven by student suggestions, according to Larson and fellow co-coordinator Rebecca Hershow, a senior.

"As we started talking to [students] earlier in the semester, people were really enthusiastic about the event," Larson said. "I'm just glad to see that people care about this cause."

Larson and Hershow, both members of the HIV/AIDS Initiative within LCS, have enlisted student groups to participate in the activities, including sexual education group VOX: Voices for Choice; Social Justice Arts Initiative, a group that promotes global equality issues; and the Pre-Med Society, along with Health Service and the LGBT Center.

"AIDS is a disease that affects a lot of people around the world," Larson said. "Many people don't realize that AIDS is a problem in Boston as well as around the world."

Larson said that LCS's HIV/AIDS Initiative addresses the disease as it affects Tufts' surrounding communities.

"I think that the heart of LCS is to help out in the local community," she said.

A celebration of this magnitude on campus, Hershow said, is designed to remind students of the global gravity of the disease.

"I think Tufts students want to be aware of the big issues right now, and HIV is still a pandemic, and it's still a huge problem," Hershow said. "It's a global memorial day for the pandemic."

Hershow hopes that the event will serve to promote healthy lifestyles.

"I think it's just important for students to learn to protect themselves and just be aware of these global issues," Hershow said.

Larson hopes the event will encourage attendees to become active in AIDS education and prevention efforts, particularly in the local community.

Tufts Community Union Senator Tabias Wilson, a sophomore who helped coordinate today's events, said that the outreach was especially important for young people and students.

"It's really the time to sort of form safe sexual practices, and it's a good time to get the facts out to people," Wilson said.

Hershow appreciated the participation of the groups in recognition of the day.

"I think it's really cool that all of the groups dedicated their time to support World AIDS Day," she said. "I think it'll be really fun."

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