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Medlinks Mark World AIDS Day with Lobby 7 Booth

Helen Lin--The Tech
Caroline M. Thomas, coordinator for the Alumni/ae Association, ties a ribbon on a World AIDS Day wreath in memory of individuals who have died as a result of the AIDS virus.

By May K. Tse
Associate News Editor

Medlinks and the Medical Department hosted a booth in Lobby 7 yesterday to commemorate World AIDSDay.

World AIDS Day, an annual event begun by the World Health Organization and commemorated by the Medical Department for the past four years, was actually Sunday, but since that was over the weekend, "we moved it to Monday because we wanted people to see it as they walked to class," said Jenna M. Goldberg '99, a Medlink who helped coordinate of the event.

Tracy A. Desovich, health educator for students and program coordinator for the Medlinks, emphasized the importance of holding such an event at MIT while students are still in college.

Today, the leading cause of death of both men and women between the ages of 25 and 44 is AIDS, Desovich said. "Since there is a 10-year incubation period, that means they're contracting it when they're 15 to 34, probably as a result of practicing risky behavior, either by unsafe sex or by sharing needles,"she said.

"We'd like to increase awareness in the MIT population, especially since MITpeople can be very indifferent at times,"Goldberg said.

Booth commemorates victims

The Medlinks' booth contained a variety of items, including the standard informational pamphlets and brochures, red ribbons, buttons, and safer sex supplies. "We've been grabbing people as they walk by and talking to them, so we've been getting a pretty good response today,"Goldberg said.

The booth also featured two quilts. One was a quilt made by members of the MIT community to "commemorate people in the arts who have died of AIDS, like Liberace,"Desovich said.

The second quilt was stitched with the names of people in the MIT community who have died of AIDS. Though the quilt had only nine names stitched in, "it hasn't been updated since 1993, so there are probably more. People can call and give us names to update it,"Desovich said.

An informational video called "People Like Us" played in the background as students walked by. "Iwas at the University of Connecticut when that video was made in 1992,"Desovich said. "Now, four out of the six college students who tell their stories in it are dead, and I'm not sure about the other two."

People passing by the exhibit were invited to tie a small red ribbon onto wires on the exhibit if they knew of anyone who was infected with HIVor who had died of AIDS. When the booth closed yesterday at about 3 p.m., almost 50 ribbons had been tied on.

"I'm helping out with this booth because Ithought this was the least I could do for the AIDScause, and the World AIDSDay is an excellent opportunity to raise people's awareness and to remind them of this deadly disease,"said Medlink Vanessa M. Ferreira '98.

Although it was only a one-day event, the Medlinks hoped that the event increased awareness of other diseases. "People right now are just concentrating on AIDS, but people should also remember there are other STDs; we're also cautioning people not to forget about that,"Goldberg said.

For more information, including AIDS testing sites and general counseling, people may call the Medical Department at x3-1316.