Candlelight vigils, a march in remembrance of AIDS victims and red ribbons will fill the streets of campus today as organizations recognize the 13th annual World AIDS Day, themed “AIDS: Men make a difference.”
“There’s a slight invincibility factor in the students at Cornell, and it is important that we realize that we’re part of a bigger picture,” said Tyler Cornell ’99, Gannett Health Center promotion assistant. “Each year, 44,000 people are infected with HIV, and we need to think about where we fit into this big picture.”
Gannett Health Center has taken several steps to promote student awareness, including the display of a section of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest moving art project in the world. The quilt, deemed by Tyler as “a motivator to think, inspire empathy and eliminate bias,” has been on display at the center since Nov. 27 and will continue to be on display until Saturday, Dec. 2.
“AIDS is on this campus whether we acknowledge it or not. We are all part of the human community, and we should all be concerned,” said Patricia Enekwe ’03, vice president of Sexuality and AIDS Fosters Education (SAFE). SAFE plans a Candlelight Vigil to remember AIDS victims today at 4:30 p.m. in front of the Straight. The vigil will be followed by a march from the Straight to Dewitt Park on the Commons.
In addition to organizations on campus, some groups in the Ithaca community have also decided to take part in the day’s activities. Ithaca’s First Congregational Church will open its doors to everyone in the community today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to remember victims of AIDS.
“We’ve done this in previous years and encourage anyone who would like to come in and pray in remembrance of the victims of AIDS to join us,” said Parish Coordinator Tara Wilder.
World AIDS Day emerged from the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programs for AIDS prevention in 1988. It has become a day set aside to remember over 18 million people who have lost their lives to AIDS as well as the additional 34 million HIV- and AIDS-infected people worldwide.
The opportunities to learn about and participate in this 13th annual World AIDS Day are numerous, and many key organizers stress the importance of student involvement. “It is important that we continue working with students in realizing the dangers of HIV,” Cornell said. “After all, AIDS is 100 percent fatal, but 100 percent preventable.”
Archived article by Aylin Tanyeri