The University of Idaho HIV and AIDS awareness campaign began on the annual World AIDS Awareness Day — Sunday– with a screening of “Rent,” a musical about the AIDS crisis in New York City in the 1980s.
The program continued on Monday with free HIV testing in the Idaho Commons. Finally, the week’s events wrapped up with a documentary on Thursday during the regularly scheduled Lavender Lunch in the Office of Multicultural Affairs lounge.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus — an infection that can be spread through body fluid contact, said Julia Keleher, the director of the LGBTQA Office on campus. HIV is spread through sexual fluid contact, needle drugs and blood transfusions. It is not spread through saliva.
Keleher said HIV attacks important cells in the immune system, and then it develops into AIDS. However, someone who is HIV positive may not get AIDS.
“It’s heavy stuff, it’s a heavy topic matter,” Keleher said. “I think in our society, we know it exists but … sometimes we don’t know the specifics.”
International World AIDS Awareness Day is dedicated to education about HIV and AIDS, as well as a remembrance to those lost to the disease.
Part of the goal of the events is to teach students the ways one can contract HIV and how to keep themselves safe.
This year the LGBTQA Office and Inland Oasis partnered with a variety of other organizations to bring HIV testing and awareness programs to campus this week, said Christopher Bidiman, the executive director of Inland Oasis.
“I work with Inland Oasis, so in 2008 we began doing the HIV testing which we were really strongly interested in to begin with,” Bidiman said. “And I had approached some colleagues that I knew on UI campus and said ‘hey, how would you feel about potentially bringing this in?’ … So at this point, this is the sixth year that we’ve done that.”
Inland Oasis does HIV testing year round. They are open Monday through Thursday for appointments or walk-ins and Sunday for walk-ins only. Anyone can make an appointment over the phone or on the Inland Oasis website.
Amber Evans Pinel
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