Last week Concordia’s AIDS awareness campaign distributed 6,000 condoms, as a team of vigilant, young students took greater measures to raise consciousness among their university peers.
AIDS Awareness Week was held at Concordia from January 30 to February 3. The week-long program aimed at educating the student population on the spread of one of the most deadly health pandemics in world history.
Posters were handed out, students gathered to ask questions and organizers gave out free condoms at the mezzanine.
“It’s our responsibility to educate our student population about the risks of the HIV/AIDS virus that is presently ravaging our community,” said Noah Stewart, chief organizer of the AIDS Awareness Week. “If we do not take immediate measures to improve the Aids awareness campaign, the situation will escalate.”
According to Stewart, $4,000 was pledged for this year’s awareness campaign, which he thinks must be invested in a continuous education program that will raise awareness among young people.
“This will provide adequate facilities that will promote the AIDS education program,” he said.
Although student turnout throughout the week was low, the amount of condoms distributed was 6,000 on Friday. Stewart and team are planning to double the amount of condoms to be distributed next year.
CANADA AND ABROAD
In Canada, critics say many Aboriginal women’s rights are being overlooked during their post-natal care period because they have AIDS. However, Canada isn’t the only nation accused of this type of negligence. It’s been reported that Garifuna people of the Caribbean shores in Central America are also being deprived access to health services.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 4 million people were infected with the virus in 1999 and numbers have continued to rise in recent years. In all, more than 23 million Africans are said to be carriers of the disease.
Discrimination is believed to be the immediate cause of the continuous spread of the disease. In South Africa, the apartheid regime has undermined the awareness effort to Black South Africans, by implementing the Employment Equity Act preventing HIV/AIDS testing by government departments.
Sheriff Sackity, a Concordia student of African origin, recalled the exclusion that many Africans face after testing positive for the disease.
“Living with AIDS in Africa meant the whole society will walk away from you, and no one will like to share or even care for you. I may say thank you, to aid organizations who have kept those affected lives going, after being neglected by their own families,” Sackity said.
Poor African countries are struggling with huge debts to the World Bank, which, along with internal conflict paving a major stumbling block for development.
Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa is now 47 years old. However, if HIV/AIDS hadn’t been a major factor in many deaths, the average life expectancy would rise to 62.