Dildos were propped up on tables like soldiers at attention, waiting for their Durex helmets to be put on. A “Sex Spinner” sat on a table while Sex and Relationship interns asked questions and gave out t-shirts as prizes. At the center of the perimeter of tables and people was a six-foot, papered board, where people wrote responses to: “How does AIDS effect your life?”
This was all done in celebration of World AIDS Day. Since the actual day is on Dec. 1- during Dead Week- the Sex and Relationship Interns got a head start by having their annual World AIDS Day Fair Nov. 18 from 10-2 p.m. on the Career Center Lawn.
“[The goal of the event was] to raise awareness and to educate students about AIDS and HIV, especially as it relates to them more locally,” said Tamzen Hull, the adviser for the event and a Health Counselor at UCSB. “The event is World AIDS Day, so we do want them [students] to realize what the epidemic looks like world-wide, but we also want them to realize that it does affect them and [we want them to be aware as to] what they can do to protect themselves. For example, using latex barriers, or getting tested- knowing their status. We really just want to provide some education and awareness and make it appealing to them and their lives here at UCSB.”
The slogan of the event was “Know your status,” meaning that you should know your own level of risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Sex and Relationship Intern, Allie Clement, believes that this can be achieved through understanding how the virus is transmitted, using latex barriers, communicating with your partner about sexual history, and getting tested on a regular basis.
According to www.Avert.org, there are over 3.3 million people living with HIV worldwide as of 2007, and over one million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States alone. Bringing awareness to students about these statistics and what they can do to prevent acquiring the virus was the main goal of the event.
Another way to “know your status” is to be more educated about myths and facts regarding HIV/AIDS.
“One thing that there’s a lot of misconceptions and myths about is how HIV is transmitted, so we really do want students to realize that the most common modes of transmission are through blood, semen, vagina secretions, and breast milk,” said Hull. “All the myths about getting it from a mosquito or that you can get it from saliva or urine, things like that, those aren’t true.”
Besides the Sex and Relationship Interns, representatives from VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood), STAR (Students Teaching Alcohol Responsibility), and the Pacific Pride Foundation were also present.
The Pacific Pride Foundation held a free and confidential HIV/AIDS antibody testing in the SRB the following day, Nov. 19 from 10-3 p.m. that was open to all students no matter what their risk level was. UCSB’s Student Health purchased the tests and members of Pacific Pride Foundation, who are state-certified counselors for HIV/AIDS testing, performed the actual procedures. Out of the 80 plus tests that were done, none of them came up with a preliminary positive, a result which would have signified the possible presence of HIV/AIDS.
According to Clement, the event was a success and over one hundred students stopped by to get information, condom-filled goody bags, and to learn about their risk level.
“I had so many people come up to me and say, ‘I learned so much,’” said Clement. “And as a Peer Educator, it was so great to hear that.”
According to Hull, the Sex and Relationship Interns have been holding the World’s AIDS Day fair for over eight years and hope to continue to raise awareness in the future.