Tuesday, January 5, 2010

World AIDS Day in the Southwest

One day for AIDS work and recognition was not enough for us here in New Mexico, so we tested and partied all week long. Starting on WAD-eve, we headed over to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque for a full day of testing from 10am-4pm, followed by a half hour presentation by the Department of Health on HIV/AIDS prevention. We ended up testing about 25 people. Thank you to Arika, the NM DOH, and Alpha Phi Alpha for setting it all up!

The following day we switched it up and instead of testing students in Albuquerque we went over to Santa Fe Community College and held an event there (thanks to the awesome help from their Student Nursing Club). Being that SFCC is a smaller school, we did not test as many people, but we still managed to inform nine individuals of their status. We also were able to hand out some free condoms and literature, so there are a couple more people out there practicing safe sex because of us!

The testing event went from 9am-4pm, and afterwards we grabbed some dinner at Bumblebee’s and then headed to Railway Park for a candlelight vigil for those who have died of AIDS. The vigil was hosted by Trey’s agency, Southwest Care Center, which is a high tech HIV/AIDS clinic, and was a sad but good experience. They lined the park with “farolitos”, a local decoration that is simply a brown paper lunch bag with a candle inside. There was a bunch lining the pathways and in the shape of a big AIDS ribbon in the middle of the park. It was simple but scenic, gently lighting up the park. After a brief speech by the Medical Director of SWCC, Trevor Hawkins, and a few melodies sung by SWCC staff, anyone who wanted to could tell their and their loved ones story. It was a good way to hear how people other than those who are positive are affected by the disease.

Unfortunately, we had to go back to our agencies and work after Tuesday, but that did not stop us from finishing off the week with a party! That Friday our city supervisor, Robert Sturm, and the agency he works at, New Mexico Community AIDS Partnership, held a get together for WAD and the various HIV/AIDS agencies and projects they help fund. There was a whole bunch of interesting people there, as well as free soda and food, so obviously us Americorps members flocked to the event. It was a fun and relaxing way to finish up a busy week.

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