‘Partners in Health Engage’ discuss HIV and AIDS

A volunteer pins a red ribbon on a woman during an AIDS awareness event in a red light area on the eve of World AIDS Day in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 . World AIDS Day is marked on Dec. 1 every year to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP)

Last night, a group of students met in the Student Union to discuss the effects of HIV and AIDS and to plan an on-campus demonstration. Members of the group Partners in Health Engage were in charge of the meeting, and presented videos and facts detailing the problems Americans and people worldwide who have HIV or AIDS face on a daily basis. The meeting was attended by several students, and they spent their time planning a Die-In demonstration and making signs.

A Die-In is when activists lay motionless on the ground in a busy public setting to raise awareness about the number of people suffering and dying from something. It has a history of being a dramatic and effective means of protest, with one of the most famous instances of a Die-In taking place in St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the AIDS epidemic in New York City. It was in direct protest of the controversial comments from the Catholic Church regarding the outbreak.

Leaders of the group say they want to change activism on campus and make students more active citizens in the community around them. Partners in Health decided to have their Die-In protest to take place today, Dec. 1, at noon outside of Homer Babbidge Library.

Some of the most striking information presented by the group focused on the fact that HIV and AIDS is still an issue worldwide that many are not paying attention to. Two different monetary funds, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, are meant to work in tandem to help combat the spread of the disease. The current proposed budget plan making its way through Congress has over $1 billion in funding cuts to these programs that could prove detrimental to the cause.

The group asked repeatedly that those attending take the opportunity to contact Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy as soon as possible. Murphy currently sits on the Appropriations Committee as well as the Foreign Relations Committee, and is uniquely placed to make a difference in increasing America’s commitment to fighting AIDS globally.

According to the group, over 36 million people are still living with HIV worldwide, and over half of them do not have access to treatment. Margaux Amara, a team coordinator with Partners in Health Engage, spoke on the challenges those living with AIDS and HIV face.

“Wherever HIV and AIDS is, you can almost always guarantee there is some sorts of human rights violation in that community. HIV and AIDS is linked to an individual’s social situation, and by fighting it on a policy level, we can make it easier for people with the disease to live a happy and fulfilling life,” Amara said. “At the same time we need to attack the social forces that perpetuate the epidemic in vulnerable communities, and that is what we hope to do with this Die-In.”


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.