Raising AIDS awareness

In the two minutes it takes GW students to walk from class at Funger Hall to J Street for lunch, lives of 10 young people around the world are changed forever. They are infected with HIV.

In the United States, two young people are infected with HIV, the disease that causes AIDS, every hour, according to research by UNAIDS, a United Nations program that studies HIV and AIDS.

A study by the Center of Disease Control released December 2000 reported that of the 774,467 known AIDS cases, 3.5 percent of infected people are ages 20 to 24.

While this may seem like a small percentage, UNAIDS also reported half of all new AIDS cases are found in people between the ages of 15 and 24. And, according to the CDC, D.C. has the fifth highest amount of AIDS cases reported of any U.S. city.

For all these reasons it is important GW students get educated about HIV/AIDS. Many venues across the District and GW offer educational programs and volunteer opportunities regarding the disease.

HOPEs

Student Health’s Outreach Peer Educators (HOPEs) is GW’s peer outreach program. It trains students to work as peer educators about keeping healthy, safe sex, HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases.

“Our goal is to be a resource for students about AIDS and to help them make good decisions and choose healthy lifestyles,” program coordinator Susan Haney said.

The program teaches students to advise their peers about risky behaviors that can lead to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, Haney said.

“We teach students things like how to negotiate safe sex,” Haney said.

Once trained, students are qualified to speak to their peers.

Haney said HOPEs has received less student response this year than in the past.

“We have a need for students to help in many ways,” Haney said.

For students who do not wish to speak to their peers other, opportunities exist from creating brochures to putting up posters about AIDS awareness.

For more information e-mail
reachout@gwu.edu.

Students Global Aids Campaign

The Student Global Aids Campaign is an international student AIDS advocacy group. It is the largest student network devoted to combating global AIDS, with members at 188 high schools, colleges and graduate schools in 43 states.

The SGAC centers on changing U.S.-global AIDS policy. The group lobbies the government to donate at least $2.5 billion a year to the United nation’s Global AIDS and Health Fund.

The SGAC lobbies Congress and the White House, through letter-writing campaigns, meetings with congressional staff and protests.

While GW does not have its own SGAC chapter, GW junior Naina Dhingra is the SGAC team coordinator for advocacy, lobbying and direct action for the national organization. She, with other GW students, is working to begin a GW chapter.

“Undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members have expressed interest in becoming involved,” Dhingra said.

For more information e-mail niana@gwu.edu.

Whitman Walker Clinic

The Whitman Walker Clinic is a non-profit community-based health organization committed to helping people infected with HIV/AIDS.

The clinic, whose main office is located at 1734 14th St., N.W., offers many volunteer opportunities for students, ranging from aiding with HIV testing to counseling and stocking shelves at area food banks.

Senior Brad Stein has served a research volunteer for the clinic for the past two years. Stein, who plans to attend medical school after graduation, said the clinic is a wonderful place to work and learn.

“It has enhanced my desire to become a doctor,” Stein said.

Stein also volunteers for an HIV/AIDS Global Community Advisory Board, which serves as a community watchdog to ensure all HIV trial vaccines are ethical and safe.

Volunteers for the District’s advisory board, Capital Area Vaccine Effort (C.A.V.E.), meet once a month to devise plans on ways to recruit people for trial vaccines.

“The biggest problem with so many HIV cases in the area is education,” Stein said. “One of the ways to educate youth is by getting them involved through volunteering.”

For more information about the clinic,
e-mail wwcinfo@wwc.com. For information about C.A.V.E., e-mail Stein
at oldnavy@gwu.edu.

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