The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday May 21st

Groups Plan for World AIDS Week

The Campus Y and the UNC Center for Healthy Student Behaviors are sponsoring several events today through Friday in conjunction with World AIDS Week. The UNC Center for AIDS Research started the week with a symposium Monday.

Saturday, World AIDS Day, is the culmination of the week, which this year carries the slogan "I Care ... Do You? Youth and AIDS in the 21st Century."

Scott Butler, coordinator of human sexuality programs for the center, said it is important to inform college students about AIDS because half of all reported AIDS cases are people under the age of 25.

The week kicked off Monday with a symposium titled "UNC World AIDS Day: A Global Perspective on HIV," which was held at the Friday Center and focused on vaccines, treatment, prevention and behavior.

Lissa Mohr, the administrative director for the UNC Center for AIDS Research, said the symposium brought together several prominent national and international figures in the field of HIV research. She said it was an opportunity for them to talk about their work with other professionals.

The symposium was the first of many events that will be held during World AIDS Week.

Asha Sekhri, the president of South Asia Against AIDS Foundation, will speak at 6 p.m. today in 111 Carroll Hall. The Campus Y is sponsoring the speech as part of the organization's AIDS Benefit Week.

The speech will focus on the marketing and business aspects of HIV research, said Natasha D'Souza, health focus co-chairwoman for the Campus Y.

Butler said the Student Recreation Center is holding free walk-in HIV testing Wednesday. Testing will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and test results will be confidential.

The "Safer Sex Squad" also will hand out packets from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. Thursday at restaurants and bars on Franklin Street. The packets will consist of condoms and brochures about the HIV virus, Butler said. "We're hoping to get attention from that," he said.

The main event of World AIDS Week is a walk that will be held 2 p.m. Friday at Polk Place, Butler said. Registration for the walk will begin at 1:30 p.m., and the first 400 people to sign up will receive a free T-shirt. "I think its a great way to raise awareness on campus," Butler said.

While there is not yet a cure for the HIV virus, Butler said he hopes the week's events will promote awareness and prevention.

Butler said potential vaccines for HIV are still being tested by the Food and Drug Administration, but it is uncertain when a vaccine will be available to the public. "Right now, they are still in testing, so there is no cure (for HIV) as of now," Butler said. "Until then, (we) will focus on primary prevention."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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