AIDS victim speaks on awareness

By Leah Kulikowski

During first six days of December, students and community members can actively participate, learn and support HIV and AIDS awareness through a series of events sponsored by the Black Student Union and OUTlook.

At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in Jamrich Room 102, Maria Davis will speak about her personal experience with AIDS. This event is free to attend and sponsored by BSU.

“What better way to reach the masses, educate and teach them on AIDS prevention and awareness than to have someone with the virus speaking?” said Aaron Whitaker, a psychology training and development graduate student and BSU president. “We thought it was a good idea, all of this information coming from someone who is dealing with this every day.”

Davis contracted the HIV virus 16 years ago. She represents a group that has been affected by the AIDS epidemic.

Whitaker is driven towards the cause of HIV and AIDS awareness after she lost a close relative to the AIDS virus. She aims to spread awareness and help people realize that no one is immune to the disease and show how it changes people’s lives.

“We are losing more people to this disease than we think,” Whitaker said. “We need to educated people on how to prevent contracting this disease as well as being safe when planning on being sexually active. It starts with testing. And if you end up positive, it’s all about getting out there and spreading the word about prevention and making smart and safe decisions.”

Davis’s speech will depict how her life changed after discovering she had AIDS and to provide awareness and prevention tips for the disease.

“We hope to promote the idea that HIV is a real danger that can affect anyone. The disease doesn’t care who you are or what you do. Everyone is at risk, and everyone should be concerned about prevention as well as helping others who have contracted the virus,” Joshua Garnett said, the president of OUTlook and a junior biochemistry major at NMU.

BSU and OUTlook have worked together in promoting HIV and AIDS awareness in a series of events on campus. At 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, a Spades Card Tournament is being held in the Marketplace. It costs $6 and the first place prize gets two gift certificates.

The second awareness event is the World AIDS Day Fundraising Dance at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2 in the Huron Room of the University Center. Admission is free and raffle tickets are $5 each. Businesses have donated over $500 for raffle prizes.

“All of the proceeds that are collected will be donated to the Marquette County Health Department Continuum of Care program, which offers care and support to individuals who are living with HIV as well as their family and friends,” Garnett said.

Together, BSU and OUTlook are displaying AIDS quilts in the Hedgcock Atrium from Dec. 1 through Dec. 6.
“Each block of the quilt contains eight individual panels that have been submitted by family and friends of a victim of the epidemic,” Garnett said. “We encourage everyone to stop by and view these memorials.”

This event is open to students, teachers and the community. There is no admission fee. For more details, email Aaron Whitaker at [email protected].