HIV/AIDS Awareness Week Brings Together Artworks, Education
HIV/AIDS Awareness Week will include a display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt and a reading of names of people who died of HIV/AIDS and whose lives are celebrated by the quilt.
Though great strides have been made in treating sexually transmitted diseases, students still need to know the importance of testing and prevention to stay healthy, say organizers of the 2017 HIV/AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day at UT Dallas.
That’s why the week’s activities on campus Nov. 27-Dec. 1 will focus on education and testing.
“It’s important to talk about sexually transmitted diseases. Who can get AIDS? Everyone, not only stigmatized populations,” said Leticia Ferreira, a PhD student in ATEC who is helping organize the week’s activities.
“Everything’s treatable if you know you have it. We are all about getting tested and knowing your status,” Ferreira said.
HIV/AIDS Awareness Week also will include a display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a special display of student artwork, an interactive electronic poetry display by Labsynthe (Laboratory of Synthetic and Electronic Poetry) and a reading of names of people who died of HIV/AIDS and whose lives are celebrated by the quilt.
Free HIV testing will be offered Nov. 28 and Nov. 30 by Prism Health North Texas — an agency that focuses on HIV education, research, prevention and care — and Dec. 1 by the UT Dallas Student Wellness Center.
The Importance of Getting Tested
Kacey Sebeniecher, director of the Student Wellness Center, said she encourages anyone who is sexually active to be tested at least once a year for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Besides the free testing during HIV/AIDS Awareness Week, the center offers free HIV testing once a month during the fall and spring semesters, and the Student Health Center offers testing at a reduced cost for UT Dallas students.
“This is a cause that affects every person in our UT Dallas community, whether it’s someone they are supporting or someone who needs support themselves. Our mission is to let the campus know we have answers and can offer support.”
“Even with the advancements of HIV medications, HIV can cause various negative health effects and can lead to AIDS, an immunodeficiency syndrome caused by HIV. Additionally, early detection of HIV and the earlier start of treatments can decrease the frequency and severity of the health effects caused by the virus,” Sebeniecher said.
Campus partners this year also include the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication’s Public Interactives Research Lab and the Galerstein Gender Center.
“This is a cause that affects every person in our UT Dallas community, whether it’s someone they are supporting or someone who needs support themselves. Our mission is to let the campus know we have answers and can offer support,” said Matt Johns, assistant director of the Galerstein Gender Center.
Students in several Living Learning Communities (LLC) — Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication; Women in STEAM; and Exploration — have created individual art submissions that will be part of a collective display through Nov. 27 in the lobby of Residence Hall West and then through Dec. 1 in the lobby of the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building.
“We decided to do this as a service learning opportunity, so we talked about what HIV and AIDS looks like today. Though it’s not talked about as much in the media anymore, it’s still an important piece of sex education,” said Mary Jane Partain, LLC director.
Representatives from the Rainbow Guard, UT Dallas’ LGBTQIA advocacy student group, will provide statistics, safety tips and testing information.
'A Beautiful and Poetic Memorial'
From Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, the ATEC building's main lobby will be home to one block from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest piece of community folk art in the world. The memorial quilt, which has served as a tribute to the lives of those who have died of HIV/AIDS since 1987, has more than 49,000 unique panels inscribed with messages, names and art.
“The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a beautiful and poetic memorial, and a political tool as well,” Ferreira said. “The first time you see a block of panels, it’s very impactful. It’s very personal and universal at the same time.”
On World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, volunteers will take part in the Reading of the Names of people commemorated by the AIDS Memorial Quilt from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students, staff and faculty can register to participate.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].