Today: Apr 23, 2024

SAGE educates how AIDS effects marginalized communities

Brandon Cortes- News Writer

In a bustling scene at the Adanti Student Center plaza level, the Sexuality and Gender Equality, SAGE, Center and the Multicultural Center recently took center stage, orchestrating a poignant event commemorating Black World AIDS Day Awareness.  

The event, which has become an annual fixture, aimed to extend support to individuals grappling with HIV, honor those who have succumbed to the virus and combat the enduring stigma surrounding AIDS and HIV within the community. 

Brandon Iovene, a graduate intern at the SAGE Center and the driving force behind the event, emphasized its pivotal role in highlighting the disproportionate impact of AIDS on Black and queer communities.  

“It’s crucial that we create spaces for open discussion and education to address the misconceptions and challenges surrounding AIDS,” Iovene said. 

James Henderson, the associate director of multicultural affairs, underscored the significance of the event’s timing, coinciding with National Black AIDS Awareness Day on Feb 7.  

He described the synchronicity between the event and Black History Month as a unique opportunity to intertwine historical reflection with contemporary advocacy. 

Throughout the event, speakers delved into the pervasive stigmas associated with HIV, particularly within marginalized and queer communities. 

Iovene refuted the erroneous belief that engaging in gay sex inevitably leads to contracting the virus, emphasizing the importance of dispelling such myths through education and awareness. 

Interactive elements were interspersed throughout the event, engaging attendees and promoting healthy sexual practices. Among these was the distribution of “Safe Sex Cups,” each containing condoms, lubricants and educational materials. 

Attendees had the opportunity to receive these kits by signing a pledge committing to educate others about safe sex practices and combat biases surrounding HIV. Additionally, an HIV test kit lottery added an element of health awareness to the event. 

As participants signed their pledges, they added their names to small pieces of paper, creating a visual representation of collective commitment and solidarity. Iovene highlighted the effectiveness of this approach in fostering a culture of empathy and understanding within marginalized communities, ultimately contributing to the dismantling of stigmas associated with HIV. 

Throughout the event, discussions centered on the importance of community support and inclusivity in addressing the challenges posed by HIV and AIDS. Speakers shared personal stories and experiences, underscoring the resilience and strength of those living with the virus. 

Health science major Ana Sofia, a junior, emphasized the broader significance. 

“Beyond having free stuff, events like these are crucial for heightening awareness and dismantling stigmas surrounding HIV and AIDS,” Sofia said. “They serve as pivotal platforms for education and advocacy, fostering a community-driven approach to tackle the multifaceted challenges posed by these health issues.” 

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