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Campaign to End AIDS walk stops at Trabant

11:02 a.m., Oct. 31, 2005--The Campaign to End AIDS walk stopped at the Trabant University Center on Wednesday, Oct. 26, for an afternoon of inspirational demonstrations and speeches.

Students, faculty and community members came out to the rally sponsored by the Delaware HIV Consortium and the Campaign to End AIDS.

A caravan of 45 walkers making their way from New York City to Washington, D.C., stopped in Newark 12 days into their journey. The Newark portion of the walk picked up several local participants who joined in the walk to Trabant.

Volunteers from HOLA, UD’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Delaware HIV Consortium and other organizations from throughout Delaware staffed a table where students and faculty could sign the “End AIDS” banner, get red ribbons and send out advocacy cards to their legislators and President George W. Bush.

“I’m donating my time for a great cause. I think similar campaigns should be everywhere--in high schools, other colleges and communities, to spread awareness about AIDS,” Hana Fristensky, a UD junior and volunteer with HOLA, said.

The volunteers and speakers stressed the importance of convincing political leaders to devote more funding to HIV/AIDS prevention, research and treatment.

“The key issue is getting people involved politically. We are having people sign these advocacy cards to send to President Bush and senators to bring their attention to this issue,” John Barnshaw, a UD Disaster Research Center graduate assistant, said.

Several stressed the importance of also getting political and religious leaders involved with the fight against AIDS.

Charles King, director of Housing Works, one of New York City’s largest and most respected AIDS-service organizations, spoke about the walkers’ motivation to end the AIDS epidemic in America today, with the help of national, religious and social leaders.

“I am articulating our vision of a world without AID. We need a commitment of caring and compassion to bring this issue to their [political leaders’] attention and asking for the resources we need,” King said.

King outlined four major points in his plan to end AIDS:

  • Help those living with HIV/AIDS gain access to treatment, care and housing;
  • Promote prevention through needle exchange, condoms and abstinence;
  • Invest federal funds in research for treatments and a cure; and
  • End the stigma against people living with HIV/AIDS.
Carrie Ziemniak, a UD alum who works as a research assistant in a pediatric infectious disease laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, speaks at the rally.
Carrie Ziemniak, a UD alum who works as a research assistant in a pediatric infectious disease laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, spoke after King about women living with HIV.

“We are currently researching the way mothers pass HIV to their unborn babies. But, this research requires money, which first requires action from leaders to acquire this funding,” Ziemniak said.

UD grad student John Barnshaw spoke after Ziemniak. He encouraged UD students to get involved with the Campaign to End AIDS, by helping to keep medical benefits strong and working to strengthen global AIDS funding and restoring and enhancing effective HIV treatments.

“There were 5 million new infections of HIV last year; as a community, we must get involved. Students can volunteer and organize campus activities about AIDS,” Barnshaw said. “Every single discipline at UD can be useful to this campaign; every single person can make a difference.”

Alyson Lang, a member of the host committee, ended the rally by urging students to get tested, seek treatment and stay protected.

To find an agency that offers HIV testing, call the Delaware AIDS Hotline at 1-800-422-0429.

Susan Tanner, community planning coordinator for Delaware HIV Consortium, said she was pleased with the success of the rally at UD.

“We are really proud to be here in Delaware. The stop in Newark is especially focused toward getting more students involved with the campaign. All the student volunteers have been wonderful, and the campus response is overwhelming,” Tanner said.

For more information about the Campaign to End AIDS, visit [www.endaidsnow.org] and for information about the Delaware HIV Consortium, visit [www.delawarehiv.org].

Article by Kim Sharrah, AS ’06
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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