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Press release


  • 2 December 2005
  • Studentsí red alert for World AIDS Day


    World aids day

    World AIDS Day

    Students and staff at the University of Sussex are being asked to wear red and tuck into red-themed food to mark World AIDS Day (December 1).

    The colour theme, which takes its cue from the red AIDS ribbon, culminates with a candle-lit vigil to remember all those living with HIV/AIDS. The vigil will be held in Library Square on the University campus, where candles forming the shape of an AIDS ribbon will be lit from 3.30pm.

    Campaigning student society Stop AIDS, along with UNISEX (the University's sexual health and drug/alcohol service for students and staff) and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group) will also be staging a series of events to raise both funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS issues, including the plight of children affected by HIV/AIDS worldwide and rising diagnoses figures in the UK.

    One of the main events will be the screening of a moving documentary film, A Closer Walk, at 5pm in the Arts A5 lecture theatre. The film, narrated by Hollywood stars Glenn Close and Will Smith, relates the stories of different people from around with the world and their experience of AIDS.

    According to United Nations statistics, around 14 million children under the age of 15 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. By 2010, this number is expected to exceed 25 million. One child dies of AIDS every minute. This year, the United Nations and the UN children's fund (UNICEF) launched a global campaign - Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS - to support the millions of children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to eradicate the "disgrace" that sees fewer than five per cent of HIV-positive youngsters receiving treatment.

    Meanwhile, after many years of being in decline, HIV/AIDS is on the increase in the UK. Figures from the National AIDS Trust reveal a 50 per cent increase in new diagnoses since 2000. It is also thought that 53,000 people are living with HIV in the UK, 20,000 of whom have no idea they are even infected. Brighton, along with London and Manchester, is one of the HIV hot spots of the UK, with the most new HIV cases. There is still no cure for the condition.

    Student Katy Athersuch, of Stop AIDS, says: "We want to ensure that the UN's pledge to provide universal access to care and medication for all those affected by HIV and AIDS by 2010 is fulfilled. To do this we need to continue raising awareness and campaigning."

    Events on campus include a fair with stalls offering red ribbons, advice, information and free condoms, food and music in Library Square from 10am to 4pm, and a World AIDS Day quiz at the East Slope bar in the evening. In addition, student society Poda Poda will be screening two films - It's My Life and Steps for the Future - to mark World AIDS Day. Members of the student RAG group will also be rattling tins in Brighton as part of a fancy dress collection, in support of HIV/AIDS charity the Terrence Higgins Trust (named after one of the first people to die with AIDS in the UK).

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    Notes for editors 

    Entry to see A Closer Walk is free of charge, but donations are welcome. Proceeds go to various AIDS charities, including the International Community of Women Living with HIV, the African Pulse (which helps youngsters deal with life in an HIV/AIDS world) and to an orphanage and school in Tanzania. For more information, see www.acloserwalk.org

    University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing, tel: 01273 678 888 or email M.T.Clune@sussex.ac.uk or J.A.Bealing@sussex.ac.uk

     

     

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