World AIDS Week – a series of events that address the profound changes a positive HIV test has on individuals and their communities – kicked off last night with a viewing of “A Closer Walk,” one of the first films to depict the world’s struggle with the AIDS epidemic.
Last night’s event, sponsored by SERVE – a service-oriented student group – and University Health Services, is one of the first events in a weeklong campaign. Throughout the week, a coalition of student groups is sponsoring film screenings, speakers and discussion panels aimed at raising awareness about AIDS around the world, in the United States and in the Ann Arbor area.
“A Closer Walk” is a documentary focused on the struggle of people across the globe living with AIDS and those who are leading the fight to eradicate the disease and educate people about it.
LSA senior Ayako Ohata, a member of SERVE’s HIV and AIDS committee, said she organized the screening to promote awareness among students.
“I think with an issue like AIDS people should be informed. It’s a global issue that should be addressed,” said LSA freshman Audrey Barick, who attended the event.
World AIDS Week events will feature speakers from all over the world. A panel discussion scheduled to take place tomorrow will include Vineeta Gupta, coordinator of Stop HIV/AIDS in India.
“As elsewhere in the world, women in India are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS,” Gupta said.
LSA junior Sunil Joy, a member of Open Your Eyes/Student Global AIDS Campaign, the group that brought Gupta to campus, said this year’s World AIDS Week is different than in years past because of the combined efforts of the many student groups involved.
He said this cooperation is due in large part to the work of Tracie Jarret-Tenney, sexual health educator at UHS. Joy said the week’s events are stronger this year because of Jarret-Tenney’s efforts to form a coalition of many different student groups. Joy said this cooperation was lacking in previous years.
In an e-mail, Jarret