Event gives students valuable information, condoms
Students gathered in the Dennis Small Cultural Center at the UMC on Oct. 18 for the HIV/AIDS open house.
Appropriately scheduled in October, which is AIDS Awareness Month, the open house was open to the public from 5 to 7 p.m.
The event was put together in the last two weeks by Jonna Fleming, coordinator of the Sexual Health Education Program (SHEP) at Wardenburg, and her student staff of five.
According to Fleming, the HIV/AIDS open house became a bigger event than the Sexual Health Education Program anticipated when other groups came together for the cause. The Dennis Small Cultural Center, Volunteer Clearing House, Women’s Resource Center, Bead for Life, Boulder County AIDS Project and Boulder County Public Health teamed with SHEP.
At the open house there was free and confidential HIV and AIDS testing, a showing of the PBS video “Age of AIDS,” and resources from the Boulder County Aids Project and Boulder County Public Health.
“By having free testing I hope students realized how HIV and AIDS affects them personally,” Fleming said. “I hope they have an increased awareness about the global effects (of HIV/AIDS).”
While at the open house, students made red ribbons for World Aids Day. The ribbons will be on display in the UMC behind an information booth on Dec. 1.
“I attended this open house for a community service project for my communication class,” said Melissa Watt, a freshman open-option major. “I think AIDS awareness is very important, and by making ribbons for World Aids Day, I feel I’m accomplishing something in a bigger sense.”
Students left the event with information on HIV and AIDS, and safer sex supplies such as free condoms.
“I believe the open house was beneficial for students because the volunteers had the opportunity to have a question and answer discussion with students,” said Emily Smith, a junior anthropology major and SHEP volunteer. “It was a conducive environment for peer education.”
Fleming said it is especially important for students to be aware of HIV and AIDS because a large percentage of new infections happen in people ages 25 and younger.
Bead for Life also attended the open house. Bead for Life sells paper-bead jewelry made by women in Uganda. The jewelry ranges in price from $5 to $30.
“The money we make goes directly to the woman of Uganda who make these beads,” Lynne Feingold, a freshman international affairs major, said. “The majority of the women have HIV or AIDS, so by giving them the money, they are able to provide for themselves.”
SHEP has been working on events throughout October for Aids Awareness Month. Each week the program covers the campus with chalk and flyers with facts about HIV and AIDS.
SHEP has also been busy participating in “condom zaps,” in which program members dress up and pass out safer sex kits in bars and restaurants around Boulder. Although they routinely participate in this once a month, the program will be on Pearl Street this Friday for their second “condom zap” during October.
“Not everyone realizes the importance of condoms, or how to use them correctly,” said Tom Lucero, a junior psychology major and SHEP volunteer. “I think it helps that it is college students giving their peers information instead of an older figure.”
According to Emily Ambrose, a senior communication major and SHEP volunteer, the HIV/AIDS open house also provided a good opportunity for students to know there are condoms, other contraceptives and safe sex tools that students can utilize. It is important for them to utilize these since student fees pay for them.
“I’d love for students to continue to get informed about what behaviors are risky or not,” Fleming said.
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and there will be a candlelight vigil from 5 to 6:30 p.m.