Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolution: Get tested

Hey DMers! Hope everyone is having a fabulous winter break. Just a little update after World AIDS Day- because of limited resources and lots of interest, we had to turn away quite a few students from the free Rapid HIV Testing on the second day. However, the Community Service Center has put together this great list of free places to get tested around Boston!

Make it your New Year's Resolution to get tested! If you'd rather do it in the privacy of your own hometown, ask your physician to give you a test over break. And remember, you can always make an appointment at Student Health Services.

We at Dance Marathon are looking into hosting more Rapid Testing in the days leading up to DM in the Spring- Tweet at us/direct message us with any other suggestions! @BUDanceMarathon Have a safe, happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

World AIDS Day 2

As part of World AIDS Day last week, Dance Marathon hosted two speakers from one of our charities, Sasha and Jeffro from Camp Heartland. Mark, a former Camp Heartland camper, was unable to make it to Boston University that day, but his wife, Sasha, came to share their story.

Sasha and Jeffro were both counselors at Camp Heartland, a camp for children with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Camp Heartland provides kids with a place to go to feel comfortable and have fun in a safe environment. The camp is a place where kids don't have to worry about being judged- from what Sasha and Jeffro have told us, many campers don't share their condition with their friends at home, and the stigma against HIV is still alive and strong in the United States.

Sasha told us that her husband Mark was born with hemophilia, and he contracted HIV through a blood transfusion. He couldn't tell his community he was HIV positive as he was growing up, but after attending Camp Heartland and then becoming a counseler, be began to speak out against the stigma. Sasha met Mark on Camp Heartland's Journey of Hope AIDS Awareness Program, which is a bus tour around the country where campers visit schools, churches, universities and other community groups to share their stories. The Journey of Hope program aims to convey these messages:

1. AIDS is preventable
2. AIDS is not transmitted causally
3. All people with AIDS deserve compassion
4. Get tested

For more information about Journey of Hope, click here.

Jeffro shared with us a song of hope written by one camper he has worked with, and Sasha shared with us the ways her and Mark are trying to have a baby. Sasha told us about the ways she and Mark can help prevent their future child from contracting HIV, which include sperm washing (semen carries HIV, but sprem does not).

We learned so much from Sasha, Jeffro and Katie, a nurse from Boston who has worked at Camp Heartland and also came to speak with us. Thank you so much to them, and we hope everyone who attended learned as much as we did!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day success!

World AIDS Day today was a fabulous success- we gave out ribbons and condoms in the GSU Link all day, sold goodies for our Bake Sale, and so many people showed up to get tested we had to tell them to come back tomorrow!

Here's DM's Michelle Markle with the official World AIDS Day shirts at BU:

The Community Service Center's Project Hope did a great job organizing an informational and collaborative event! And there's still more to come tomorrow.

But first, here are some things we talked about at the panel: The Face of AIDS in Boston.

--Different levels of progress in fighting AIDS among different populations in Boston
...Boston is a great city to be in if you are HIV positive, many resources
...prevention and outreach methods should be different in different communities
...members of a community reaching out to their own neighbors and friends is successfull

--The AIDS vaccine still a long way off
...we're taking small steps in the right direction

--Side effects of antiretroviral drugs can vary, but are horrible (vivid dreams, rashes, swelling of body fat, etc.)

--Making the HIV test more routine
...experts disagree
...making it more routine could remove the stigma?
...but counseling that accompanies the HIV test is CRUCIAL, and not something emergency rooms can perform

--The stigma against HIV positive population is still a HUGE problem
...learn more tomorrow with former Camp Heartland campers
...GSU Conference Auditorium, 7 pm

Dance Marathon at World AIDS Day!

Dance Marathon is at the GSU for World AIDS Day today! Come check out our bake sale and pick up an AIDS awareness ribbon!