Students march for AIDS recognition

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Amid the grayness and wetness of Saturday, a mass of red-clad students and community members marched down 200 South to show support for AIDS awareness.

As part of the “Walk Away AIDS” project, participants gathered at Presidents’ Circle and walked to the Gallivan Center Plaza, where they were greeted by Utah AIDS Foundation executive director Stan Penfold and Craig Sudbury, father of student director JuleeAnn Sudbury, a junior chemistry major.

Directed by three U students, the event involved planning and advertising by groups such as Freshman Council, Associated Students of the University of Utah and Campus AIDS.

“Through Freshman Council, we handed out more than 2,000 fliers,” said freshman philosophy major Clint Hugie.

Other students became aware of the event through the Web site “You can organize anything through Facebook-that’s how I found out about it,” said Niki Samakar, a senior psychology major.

Out of the nearly 70 U students and community members that came out for the event, many said they believed participating in the walk could help make a difference in finding a solution to AIDS.

“It’s an idea so small, but we don’t know where the impact will stop-that’s the cool thing about it,” said sophomore film major Michelle Baker.

With infection rates rising in the last three years, Penfold stressed education, openness and regular HIV testing to prevent AIDS. “Making HIV a visible issue is critical,” he said.

Twenty-five years after the first U.S. AIDS case was diagnosed, people still view it as a punishment, he said. “One of the most disturbing things is that we know better-we have all the tools to stop HIV and AIDS, but we don’t do anything about it,” Penfold said.

Craig Sudbury, who worked with AIDS patients in the Job Corps program, said people should not ignore the AIDS issue in their own communities.

“We have this problem in Utah, and we have some of the most myopic people in the world,” he said.

Calling AIDS a “personal issue” for millions of people across the world, Sudbury does, however, have optimism for the future. “As long as there are young people like you there is hope? We need to have education to mobilize and to fight,” he said.

Student director and sophomore behavioral science major William Hoang was happy with how the event turned out. “A lot of people asked how I can get involved,” Hoang said.

U students can get involved with AIDS-related service on campus through the Bennion Center and Campus AIDS or the Student Health Advisory Committee.

Dec. 1 will be the first World AIDS Day and will be honored with events throughout the week at the U.

Mike Terry

Haley Pullman, Nick Rich, Jeremiah Langston and Jimmy Joyce lead a group of students out of Presidents’ Circle on Saturday during a walk to the Gallivan Center to benefit AIDS.