Students campaign during World AIDS Week

By By Katherine Pasker

By Katherine Pasker

“There are worse things in the world than having sex and using a condom,” said June Hiatt, the service project coordinator for Campus AIDS.

In collaboration with the U’s Student Health Advisory Committee, various campus committees are trying to get the word out on the U campus about AIDS awareness and unprotected sex.

This Friday, free HIV testing and counseling will be offered from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Union Building to commemorate World AIDS Week. Also, an information booth is located in the Heritage Center, where free “Loving Well Kits” containing condoms are available.

Jenifer Nelson, a junior in chemistry and a member of SHAC, said she wants to “bring awareness to students and break down misconceptions (they have about AIDS) to help students be more safe.”

To encourage safer sex, these groups advocate that students get tested for STDs, talk to counselors and practice a safer sex lifestyle-including the use of contraceptives and other preventative measures.

Because Nelson is a member of the student advisory committee, she is required to be an HIV counselor and said the hardest part about advocating AIDS awareness is removing the “stigma” students have toward safe sex practices.

“The best way to get students to take one (condom) is to tell them to take one for their friends,” Hiatt said.

According to a 2005 statistic from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for every one person in Utah who has AIDS and knows about it, there are three people who have it and have not been tested. Hiatt said the reason Utah has a high number of individuals who are living with AIDS and do not know it is because “(Utahns) are really ignorant that people have sex and that there is drug use and that people don’t feel comfortable with telling people that they are sexually active. Education is the key to protecting yourself.”

A similar AIDS awareness event is being held on the county level. Today, the Utah AIDS Foundation is sponsoring a candlelight vigil from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the City and County Building. And on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, there will be an HIV-positive panel in the Union Ballroom at 1 p.m.

SHAC also sponsors HIV testing throughout the year every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Student Health Center. These screenings are free on the first Tuesday of every month.