In awareness of World AIDS Day, student organizations and community members came together for a series of events on the University of Wisconsin campus in celebration of the day’s 25th anniversary.
World AIDS Day, an annual Dec. 1 event, works to raise awareness worldwide about the virus, UW Health Rep. Allison Meier said, adding the issue of awareness continues to be important on campus as a Madison issue.
According to Meier, the campus events are significant for UW students because the AIDS virus is a prevalent problem in the Madison community, and particularly affects young people.
“The main thing is to build awareness,” Meier said. “People don’t think AIDS is a problem anymore, but it is.”
Meier added there is a stigma around the disease. People don’t want others to know they have AIDS, and because of this there are so many people that don’t get into care, she said.
Sarah Affeldt, another UW Health representative agreed, reiterating that for a lot of the world, the AIDS crisis is not over.
As one of several events held on campus in honor of World AIDS Day, the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee and the UW Health HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Care Program teamed up to offer a film screening and panel discussion Saturday.
WUD Film Committee Director Rayna Christman said the committee screens a film as part of their contribution to World AIDS Day every year. This year WUD screened “How to Survive a Plague,” as it was the latest documentary released regarding AIDS, Christman said.
The panel discussion that followed the film featured several representatives from the UW Health HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Care Program and several of the patients they treat. The panelists spoke about the work being done and the problems care specialists and AIDS patients face.
According to Christman, although WUD Film typically only shows films, it wanted to offer a panel afterward for this particular event in order to create dialogue with the group and the audience.
The screening was the second time this semester WUD Film had shown the documentary; they had screened it previously during the Reel Love Film Festival, Christman said.
Christman, who was happy to show the documentary for its “great message,” said the involvement of the discussion panel and activist groups was incredibly effective and important to the event.
While the event conflicted with the Big Ten Football Championship Game, there were still plenty of students in the audience, as well as some UW professors, Christman added.
According to Affeldt, who said she was happy with turnout, an HIV-related event can have difficulty with attendance because a lot of people “don’t want to be associated with it because of the stigma.”
Meier found the film screening to be a positive addition to the World AIDS Day programming and said UW Health would like to continue to work with campus groups to hold more World AIDS Day events in the future.
“We were glad we could have the movie here,” Meier said. “We want to further education about the AIDS virus on campus.”
Campus World AIDS Day events will continue Dec. 7 with a Dance Marathon in Memorial Union.