IC Red Week promotes AIDS awareness


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Student organizations have come together for the third year in a row to expand on a national campaign by organizing weeklong events to promote AIDS awareness.

The World Health Organization named Dec. 1 Worlds AIDS Day. Since 1988, communities and individuals across the country have contributed to spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS.

IC Red Week was created with the intention of raising both student and community awareness.

University of Iowa students held events Monday for the cause, and they will continue awareness efforts throughout the week.

“Our aim is grass-roots advocacy,” said Ashley Horne, a co-president of ONE executive board. “We start by working from an individual level with students and the community, and then our local government can see what we’re passionate about and work from there.”

ONE Campus is a nationwide organization with 130 colleges participating in World AIDS Day events. ONE organizers at Iowa took an extra step by creating the campaign with other student organizations such as Global Health Club, UI Students for Human Rights, and other local sponsors, the coordinators created events.

This year, activities throughout the week include fundraisers at local eateries, film screenings, a benefit dinner and silent auction, and a free testing event.

Organizers said the events have gained a wider reach each year.

“We have more involvement in attendance this year,” Horne said. “There are more organizations involved in the planning. Each day there is more than one thing going on, like a fundraiser and event.”

UI Students for Human Rights is among the groups that attended meetings to plan events throughout the week.

“We have directly helped with fundraising and the spoken-word event,” said Carter Yerkes, the vice president of the UI Students for Human Rights organization. “We have also contributed volunteers to help staff the events, set up for the week, and spread awareness.”

Yerkes said HIV/AIDS causes a social stigma in which people are afraid to address the disease, as well as treat those who are affected poorly.

In past years, Horne said, a lot of the money raised came from the silent auction.

“[Raising money] is just one component of the week,” Horne said. “As we’ve learned, giving money to a cause isn’t going to solve a problem. You have to understand why and get people to start talking about it.”

This year, the Red Affair auction will be held on Thursday in the IMU.

Funds will be donated to Positive Iowans Taking Charge and Community HIV and Hepatitis Advocates of Iowa Network, two HIV/AIDS organizations.

Organizers hope to raise more than $1,000 at the event.

IC Red Week 2014 coordinator Mackenzie Leonard said this generation isn’t used to talking about sexual health, which is why it is important for students to be educated.

Horne said she hopes awareness will carry on for the whole year.

“This week is not for the groups organizing it, it’s for the whole campus to be aware and have a good time with it,” she said. “Attend, go to a fundraiser, and expose yourself to what we’re putting out there.”

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