World AIDS Day at USU
USU community contributed to World AIDS Day by arranging a series of events at a variety of locations on campus, among them a red ribbon drive, a debate, educational activities at information kiosks, a teleconference for regional health care providers.
The debate, arranged jointly by the Student board and Faculty of humanities, addressed the topic of sex and relationships. It opened with some HIV-related statistics for Ulyanovsk region, which included the official figure for those affected by HIV, 8 thousand people.
The debate participants, among them the university rector, talked about the reasons for increased HIV/ AIDS rates in Russia and discussed the up- and downsides of two prevention models – European “safe sex” and American “no sex until marriage”.
Volunteers of the USU teenager rehabilitation center arranged on campus distribution of HIV/AIDS information brochures. Along with printed materials, they handed out red ribbons, the global symbol of solidarity with those afflicted by the diseases.
Scattered throughout the campus were information kiosks, also manned by the center volunteers, who tested students on HIV/ AIDS facts, such as ways of transmission and methods of protection. Correct answers were awarded with contraceptives. Those who failed had a chance to ask an “expert” and give the quiz another try.
The lobby of the main classroom building became the meeting place for everyone who wished to engage in quilt-making. AIDS quilts are typically made up of panels with names of those lost to the disease, which are contributed by their relatives and friends. USU quilt makers sewed together pieces of colorful fabric with anti-AIDS slogans, which eventually covered all the walls in the lobby, from floor to ceiling.
The day before, November 30, USU hosted a teleconference that connected experts of the regional AIDS Center with several medical facilities located in rural areas. The conference participants shared their successful experiences and concerns, the chief one being reluctance of the HIV+ to seek qualified help for fear of being shunned by fellow community members.
The health care providers discussed how they can partner together to curb the HIV spread in the region and dispel popular HIV/AIDS misconceptions.