November 20, 2007

AIDS Awareness set for Nov. 27-29 at SIUC

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Millions worldwide suffer the devastation of HIV/AIDS, currently the world's fourth leading cause of death.

But AIDS/HIV impacts real people and real families. During three days packed with special events, Southern Illinois University Carbondale brings faces and realities to the statistics.

AIDS Awareness 2007 comes to the SIUC campus Nov. 27-29. The event has grown considerably since 2000 when Student Center Special Programs and Center Events brought the AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus for a one-day show. Now, the Student Health Center, University Housing, Jackson County Health Department and the new Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Resource Center are joining the Student Center to deliver the message of AIDS awareness. An Illinois Department of Public Health grant provides funding for the various activities.

Marker flags in various hues will line Lincoln Drive from the corner of U.S. Highway 51 to the Student Center beginning about 11 a.m. Nov. 27. In all, 3,800 flags of red, white, pink and purple will fly. Each of the 2,000 red flags represents 600 AIDS sufferers currently living in the United States, 1.2 million cases in all. Officials estimate 25 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS are actually undiagnosed and 500 white flags will represent them. In addition, 560 pink flags are symbolic of the 350,000 women living with HIV/AIDS and 800 purple flags, new this year in the display, are illustrative of the 563,000 minorities in the U.S. with HIV/AIDS. The flags will speak their message of the HIV/AIDS impact through Dec. 10.

Each day Nov. 27-29 from 1 to 6 p.m., the Jackson County Health Department will perform free, anonymous HIV testing at the Student Center. Officials encourage at-risk individuals to take advantage of the free testing that will be in Ballroom A on Tuesday, Nov. 27 and in Ballroom B Nov. 28-29.

Remarks by Chancellor Fernando M. Treviño will highlight a brief opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 27 in the lower level of Grinnell Hall. Afterward, participants will join in a "Walk for Awareness" from Grinnell, across the pedestrian bridge to the Student Center.

The University Housing Hall Councils are promoting a contest encouraging students to create educational banners with messages supporting the fight to eliminate AIDS. Announcement of the winning banner and award of a traveling plaque will be in the John W. Corker Lounge about 6:45 p.m. on opening night of AIDS Awareness. Visitors can view banners in the lounge until 8 p.m. Nov. 29. The winning banner will be at Gallery 51, north of Starbucks in the Student Center, through Dec. 3.

"Sex in the Dark" is coming to Ballroom B at 7 p.m. Nov. 27. Christy Hamilton of the SIUC Student Health Center and Steven St. Julian of the Jackson County Health Department will team up for an educational, entertaining session giving answers to all those questions you've ever pondered but been afraid to ask. Participants will anonymously submit questions before the program.

Healthcare professionals from around the area will be on hand to answer questions and dispense advice from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 28 for a Health Fair in the Student Center's John W. Corker Lounge. Displays will promote good health practices and provide all sorts of valuable information.

The documentary "Got Purpose" will air continuously in Ballroom A during the testing on Nov. 28 and 29. The 73-minute film features hip-hop artist Common, acclaimed author Samuel Greenlee, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Chicago comedian and radio personality Tony Sculfield along with dynamic speaker presentations. Candace Griffin, an SIUC College of Mass Communications and Media Arts alumna, produced the film and dedicated it to Spike Lee.

"Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment: One Girl's Guide to Living and Dying," a one-woman show by comedian River Huston, will wrap up Aids Awareness 2007. It's set for 7 p.m. Nov. 29 in Ballroom D of the Student Center. Huston's credits include being a stand-up comedienne, award-winning poet, sex columnist, public speaker, aerobics instructor, musician, cabbie and more.

All Aids Awareness 2007 events are free and open to the public. For more information, call Special Programs and Center Events (SPACE) at 618/453-1142 or look online at