November 24, 2008

AIDS Awareness 2008 set for Dec. 1-3 at SIUC

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Millions worldwide and in America have contracted AIDS, while many more live with HIV. But, it’s not all about numbers. Each of those numbers represents a person, a family.

Since 1999, Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Student Center Special Programs and Center Events has commemorated World AIDS Day, sponsoring and hosting events to raise awareness of this deadly disease. The commemoration and awareness campaign have grown and expanded in the ensuing decade.

This year’s multi-day campus event is set for Dec. 1-3. Special events and noteworthy speakers highlight the numerous activities. Involved are the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, the Student Health Center, University Housing, Recreational Sports and Services, the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) Resource Center, the Jackson County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health, along with the SIUC Student Center. An Illinois Department of Public Health grant, in collaboration with the Simon institute, is helping put a face on a devastating illness.

“Dress for Sexcess” is the theme of AIDS Awareness 2008. Seniors in the SIUC Fashion Design and Merchandising program designed and created a dress from 2,550 brightly hued condoms of all colors. Maya Collum, a senior fashion design and merchandising student, modeled the condom dress for photos and posters. You can see the unique creation in the south windows of the University Bookstore Dec. 1-8. You can even pose for pictures with a six-foot tall cutout of the dress at the information tables near the north escalators of the Student Center Dec. 1-3 from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.

The AIDS awareness initiative kicks off with a very visual reminder of its impact. Five thousand red marker flags will line Lincoln Drive from the corner of U.S. Highway 51 up to the Student Center. Each flag represents 240 people in the U.S. now living with AIDS, 1.2 million people in all, according to Student Center officials.

The Jackson County Health Department will provide free and anonymous HIV testing in Student Center Ballroom B each day, Dec. 1-3, from 1 to 5 p.m. Those tested can get their results in the Mackinaw and Iroquois Rooms at the Student Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily Dec. 9-10. Anyone can participate in the free testing, but at-risk individuals are particularly encouraged to do so.

Samuel Goldman, interim SIUC chancellor, will speak during a brief opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 in the John W. Corker Lounge at the Student Center. The Walk for Awareness begins at the lounge at 6:45 p.m. and continues across the pedestrian bridge to Grinnell Hall. There, in the lower level, they’ll then announce the winner of the University Housing Hall Councils banner contest. Students are competing to create the best educational banners bearing messages in support of the fight against AIDS. The winning banner gets a traveling award plaque. You can view all of the banners in the lounge until 4 p.m. Dec. 3. The University Bookstore windows will showcase the winning banner then until Dec. 8.

“Sex in the Dark,” a program featuring Christy Hamilton of the Student Health Center and Steven St. Julian of the Jackson County Health Department, is set for 7 p.m. in the lower level of Grinnell Hall Dec. 1. Is there something, anything, you’ve ever wondered about sex but been afraid or unsure about asking? Here’s your chance! Those attending will submit questions anonymously before the program starts and the health educators will answer one and all.

The NAACP Image Award-winning HBO film “Life Support” will air at the Student Center Auditorium at 7 p.m. Dec. 2. Starring Queen Latifah and Gloria Reuben, it’s the true story of a woman from Brooklyn who is HIV-positive. After her diagnosis, she funnels her energy and regrets stemming from past drug addiction into labors on behalf of Life Support, an AIDS outreach group. Carl W. Ervin, coordinator of Student Development-Multicultural Programs and Services, will provide commentary.

Hollywood is coming to SIUC for the finale to AIDS Awareness 2008. Gloria Reuben, best known as Jeanie Boulet, the HIV-positive healthcare provider on the popular television series “ER,” will speak about the “Changing Face of HIV.” An avid AIDS activist, Reuben has earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her acting and she’s spoken about HIV and AIDS at a number of venues, including the United Nations AIDS Day and the inaugural Black Women’s Conference on HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS Awareness events are all free and open to the public. Several of the activities are U-Card approved. For more information, look online at or contact Special Programs and Center Events (SPACE) at 618/453-1142.