We’re all HIV Equal

Francesca Fontanez

Bartel’s Alumni Lounge was bustling with people of different backgrounds, races, orientations and ages, all gathered together for one thing on Thurs. Sept 25: HIV equality and awareness!

PRIDE members supporting HIV Equal (Photo obtained via HIV Equal Instagram)
PRIDE members supporting HIV Equal (Photo obtained via HIV Equal Instagram)

HIVequal is an international social media photo campaign created in order to promote testing for HIV, raise awareness and help end the stigma that comes along with HIV.

With the help of Dante Gennaro, the Outreach and Testing Coordinator for World Health Clinicians program, the University of New Haven’s PRIDE organization was able to host an event to do just that.

At the event, students were tested for HIV, and upon waiting for their results, photographed and educated about the disease. They were also provided with resources regarding how to prevent the spread, and the stigma often attached to HIV. Unfortunately, there are more than 225,000 young Americans who are unaware of their HIV positive condition.

In order to put this event together, the club had been actively planning since June.

Overall, the event had a much appreciated turn out of over 200 students; 150 of those were tested.

UNH Students partake in PRIDE’s HIV Equal  (Photos obtained via HIV Equal Instagram)
UNH Students partake in PRIDE’s HIV Equal
(Photos obtained via HIV Equal Instagram)

When asked about the attendance, Amber Crow, PRIDE President stated that she was “floored!”

Additionally, Crow stated how extremely grateful she was for the best club members and for the 18 clubs co-sponsoring the event. There are an exceptional amount of supporters and allies on campus.
“It’s truly incredible,” Crow said.

The campaign’s slogan is “Everybody has an HIV status. We are all HIV equal.”

This event brought together people from all walks of life for education, acceptance and awareness. The ultimate goal is to provide equality and hope for all those affected by the HIV virus, and to remind as many people as possible that acceptance is key.

“After becoming aware of the event, Rich and I decided it would be a good idea to support PRIDE and get tested,” said junior James Kielar.

“I had to wait 15 minutes after eating, but it was a small price to pay for such a wealth of information. I think awareness and information is important for college students, and PRIDE gave the campus community the opportunity to partake in a free and fun way of getting tested. This should definitely be an event that becomes a reoccurance on campus and I hope to see an even bigger turnout next time around.”

Richard Rotella, Undergraduate Student Goverment Association president, also attended the event and believes that tests for sexually transmitted infections are a pertinent subject in today’s society.
“I was more than happy to support such an important campus event, which addresses such a prevalent issue on college campuses,” said Rotella. “It is important to create a sense of equality and not judge one based on a status.”

When asked about any last thoughts in regards to the event, Crow states “Honestly, the campaign says it all; we’re all HIV equal.”