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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Event raises AIDS awareness

In the midst of the Global AIDS Week of Action, members of the American Medical Student Association premedical chapter at the University are taking a stand to educate students and the community about the AIDS crisis facing the world.

It’s a disease that as of December 2004, more than 39 million people are infected with and almost 5 million people were newly infected with AIDS in that same year.

Global AIDS Week of Action is held nationally from Feb. 28 through March 5 to help raise awareness and inform individuals about prevention and ways to help with the AIDS crisis.

The recently formed AMSA chapter is supporting the national effort by making it local concern, said John Ross, co-director of volunteers and special events for AMSA.

Members will be in the Union tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with information about the disease, factual brochures, condoms, ribbons and poems from children affected by AIDS.

“It’s to get awareness out about the global AIDS crisis that this is in your backyard too,” he said. “It’s not just some far away disease ravaging people that you’re never going to see. It’s here also and it’s not just their problem, it’s everyone’s problem.”

Unprotected sex and the use of unclean needles are the major reasons that AIDS is spreading. Also, in less developed countries, those infected with the disease can’t afford medication that can cost up to $500 a month, Ross said.

If people don’t have access to the medication, their immune systems continue to weaken until they die, he said.

“You don’t die from the actual virus,” Ross said. “You die from the sicknesses that accompany because of the weakened immune system.”

AMSA will also have preformatted postcards in the Union for students to sign. The postcards will be sent to local governmental officials to stress the need to increase AIDS funding globally, said Deb Fry, president of the University’s chapter of AMSA.

“There needs to be something done about global AIDS and we need to take action,” she said. “We’re voters, we’re people in the local community who want a change to take place.”

Change is accomplished through knowledge and awareness. Fry contributes the spread of AIDS to a previous lack of knowledge of how to prevent it.

“It’s not small anymore,” she said. “It’s big and it’s grown a considerable amount in such a short time. I don’t think people really know that it’s real.”

For those people who don’t know anyone directly affected by AIDS, the fact that the disease is becoming an epidemic is hard to grasp, Fry said.

“It’s something they’ve heard about, it’s something they’ve seen on TV or they’ve read in a book,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how real it is. We need to accept it and hug it.”

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