The Women’s Health Resource Center observed World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 by providing information for students and raising money for a local AIDS support program.
The WHRC sold red ribbon pins for the East Bay AIDS Center (EBAC), an outpatient program by Berkeley’s Alta Bates Hospital that treats people who have HIV and AIDS. It provides social services, support groups, insurance benefits and more.
The first AIDS awareness day was observed Dec. 1, 1988 and is intended to reduce the spread of AIDS by creating awareness, encouraging testing and raising money for AIDS programs and education.
The WHRC wanted to contribute to the cause by raising money and providing educational resources and safe sex supplies to build awareness at Mills and the greater Oakland community.
Oakland has one of the highest percentages of AIDS cases in the nation. The Oakland Tribune recently reported Oakland has the highest percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS in the western U.S. metropolitan areas.
“AIDS is frequently seen as a global issue, but in fact Oakland is one of the highest infected communities,” said senior and WHRC member Catherine Krem. “As an organization in the community it is necessary to make Mills women more aware of those infected with the HIV infection.”
WHRC leaders said they believe it is important to educate people when they are young to make safe sex a priority.
“Education and prevention is important and lacking in general,” said Bethan Lamb, a senior and president of the WHRC. Lamb also said she believed sex education must include protection. “Abstinence is an unrealistic message for most young people,” she said.
“Education in the classrooms is a good start,” said senior Rebecca Williams, who is a WHRC member.
The WHRC is a source of sexual health information at Mills College. One of its goals is to reach out to the College community about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
In his Presidential Proclamation on Nov. 25, Barack Obama reiterated that the progress the world has made in the fight against HIV and AIDS has been outstanding, but said the country cannot forget the millions of people who are affected, and thus the United States must continue the work that is required to make further progress.
“On World AIDS Day, we rededicate ourselves to developing a national AIDS strategy that will establish the priorities necessary to combat this devastating epidemic at home, and to renewing our leadership role and commitments abroad,” said Obama.