Sarah Dudley, freshman
December 1st was World AIDS Day, as people all over the world unite to show their support for people who are living with HIV, fight back against it, and to commemorate those who have passed away .While the White House adorned a massive red ribbon on its front columns, our very own Gulf Tower illuminated in all red to show support. Pittsburgh was one of hundreds of cities worldwide who came together, dawned in Red, to sponsor World AIDS Day.
In the past, there was free HIV testing on December 1st to promote awareness. However, now the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force offers free HIV and STD testing on every day except Saturday. For more information such as hours and location, visit http://www.patf.org/get-tested.
Other Pittsburgh locations that offer HIV testing include the Allegheny County Health Department, Adagio Health Network, the Pittsburgh AIDS Center for Treatment, Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania, and the Positive Health Clinic.
The University of Pittsburgh held a World AIDS Day Commemoration service in the Heinz Memorial Chapel on December 1st, at 7:30pm. This service was to remember all those who lost their battle with HIV/AIDS, and to support those who are currently fighting. Following this event, over 200 people held a candle light vigil and march through Oakland.
If you missed out on the awareness festivities, be sure to attend the pep rally for preventive medical measures for individuals at risk of contracting HIV. The event will promote pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a combination of strategies such as a daily pill and condom use for those who are at risk of contracting HIV. The rally will be held on December 10, from 7:30-9:30pm, at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue, East Liberty. The event is being sponsored by the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, and along with the informational speeches and sessions, there will be a “drag queen cheer squad”.
Are you interested in joining next year’s World AIDS Day celebration in Pittsburgh? Or just in bringing about more attention to HIV/AIDS? There are many volunteer opportunities through the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force available to you! Some include volunteering at their food pantry, being a “buddy” to an HIV-positive individual, office assistants, or many other positions. For more information, visit http://www.paft.org/community-outreach.