Updated Dec. 4, 2012, 4:28 p.m.
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Kirstie Murr.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton implored students to take advantage of GW’s free HIV testing and help prevent the disease’s spread during a World AIDS Day vigil Saturday.
The District’s delegate in Congress said proper medical practices will help combat the sickness that affects millions, but all should take precautions.
“Getting tested is itself some kind of stigma and that is what we are trying to erase,” Norton said to the gathering of about 35 people. “Unless we do so, we cannot erase this disease.”
Norton said HIV-related deaths in D.C. have dropped in half since 2008, with a 75 percent drop in the number of HIV cases stemming from injection drug use. The congresswoman called the city an “epicenter” of HIV/AIDS activism.
GW Student Global AIDS Campaign and Grassroots Colonials organized the evening vigil in Kogan Plaza, raising awareness of the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide, according to the World Health Organization estimates.
“I certainly hope it will bring more awareness,” Samuel Garrett, co-chapter leader and policy director of GW Student Global AIDS Campaign, said. “The fight against AIDS has always been important to me and working with this group is a great opportunity to continue in that fight and to continue here on campus in the global fight against AIDS.”
Garrett’s organization was part of student coalition that led GW to offer free HIV testing clinics through Student Health Service starting this October.
This post was updated Dec. 4, 2012 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a co-chair of the congressional HIV/AIDS caucus, and Senior Associate Provost and Dean of Students Peter Konwerski also attended the vigil. In fact, they were guests at last year’s vigil but did not attend this year. We regret this error.