SF State Raises AIDS Awareness
April 5, 2005 4:43 PM
The drums began to reverberate in classrooms across campus as the lion and dragon dancers made their way through SF State. It didn't mark homecoming or a holiday, but a call to the Multicultural AIDS Awareness Day held on April 5.
Held in Malcolm X Plaza and the Quad, Multicultural AIDS Awareness Day was designed to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. Music performances, speeches, and informational booths all brought attention to the growing threat. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there were approximately 39.4 million people in the world living with HIV or AIDS as of December 2004. The number cuts across all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
"We have this event every year to inform the campus as well as student body about different organizations, said Stephen Monteclaro, one of the coordinators of the event and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, who have been hosting the event for the past nine years. "Where they can get AIDS testing, where they can get information about where to get condoms for free. It's just to give out resources for San Francisco State University as well as the Bay Area. "
"We're just trying to get the word out, " Monteclaro added. "To bring it into perspective it we're having multicultural performances, because AIDS does not affect one race, it affects everybody. No matter what color or sexuality or anything."
The event featured musical performances such from group representation a wide range of cultures. Performers included break-dance troop The Termites Crew, Indian music performers Robin and Sandeep, Sistas-Wit-Style, and the Z Latin Project. Also featured were the GeeYung Dragon and Lion Dance Association, who kicked off the event by leading a procession through SF State.
"Back in the 80's and early 90's (HIV AND AIDS) was well-known and talked about a lot, said GeeYung member Shane Maihui. "And in the past few years it's kind of quieted down, so a lot of people get the misconception that it's pretty much taken care of. And truthfully, it's not. So days like this are really good just to let people know that it's still going on and what kinds of precautions are out there."
Interspersed with the musical performances were speeches by a host of local activists and community leaders. One such speaker was John Iverson, representing organizations such as HealthGap, the Student Global Awareness Campaign, and the Priority Africa Network. He spoke about the urgent need for affordable and accessible HIV/AIDS medications in developing countries such as Africa and India.
"Since I have been infected with HIV for over 25 years, I have been severely ill before there were treatments" Iverson said. "I know what it's like not to have treatment, and to be severely ill. If I didn't have treatment when it finally came around I would have died. (There's a large) amount of suffering that goes on that doesn't have to go on, because the treatments are here and they should be available to all."
The event was originally supposed to feature Mayor Gavin Newsom, but a sudden press conference prevented him from attending. Two members of his administration represented City Hall in his stead. Both SF State alumni, Ninth District and Latino Community Liaison Robert Ortega and Sixth District and Filipino-American Liaison Jason Chan spoke to students.
We are here just to reinforce that until the disease is cured, we are not going to stop with the awareness, we are not going to stop with the education." Ortega said. "And what better person place to give that education than in a place of higher education like San Francisco State? Like always, San Francisco State is on top of the ball, and we're proud to be here. "
There were a variety of events going on besides music and speeches. Free HIV testing was provided in Jack Adams Hall, and students milled around informational booths munching free pizza as they gleaned information from the many booths. SF State student Stephanie Fredericks filled out an AIDS-related survey as she stood outside the main tent.
"I think AIDS is really prevalent, and as young people we need to know if we have it or not, Fredericks said. I think that it's a scary thing to deal with, and a lot of us kind of push it behind us. But it's nice to know for sure."
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