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UA conference to address global AIDS challenges


By Monica Warren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 1, 2004
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Students concerned about the international AIDS epidemic will converge on the UA next weekend for a conference meant to increase activism and awareness.

The UA chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign will host a free conference Oct. 9 and 10 for students from throughout Tucson and Arizona who want to become involved in the struggle to fight HIV/AIDS around the world.

"The mission of our organization is to make student voices heard in the government," said Lauren Giesecke, an active member of the UA chapter and the national organization.

Conference participants will learn about AIDS activism, how to develop effective strategies for dealing with the government and the future of student involvement with the program in Arizona, a press release stated.

pullquote
We're all connected in some way. If you're in a position of helping others, why not?

- Anne Maley, executive director of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation

pullquote

There are an estimated 37.8 million people living with HIV across the world, according to the 2004 report of UNAIDS, the United Nations program for HIV/AIDS. Ten million of those infected are between 15 and 24 years old, the report stated.

"Students are in a place to make a huge difference," said Healy Thompson, national coordinator for SGAC. "We don't want to inherit a world that's been devastated by AIDS."

SGAC's main focus is advocacy, Thompson said. It works to educate members of the government, develop prevention programs that teach safe sex and to raise awareness about the orphan's crisis and the Global Fund, she said.

Thompson said students in Arizona are in an important position, because Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe plays a large part in determining foreign aid.

Kolbe serves as the chairman of the House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs.

The subcommittee funds most of the United States' foreign aid, including money for the Global Fund, which is used to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The subcommittee's 2003 budget included an extra $400 million for the Global Fund, Giesecke said.

"(Kolbe) told us the actions of our group have had an impact on him," Giesecke said. "He's a really good person to have as a global AIDS advocate."

Anne Maley, executive director of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, said that it's important for people in this country to realize what a problem AIDS is across the world and that most places don't have the resources to fight it like the United States does.

"We're all connected in some way," Maley said. "If you're in a position of helping others, why not?"

SGAC was founded in February 2001 by students at Harvard College and Kennedy School of Government, Thompson said. The organization has 75 chapters at colleges and high schools across the country, Thompson said.

The registration deadline for the conference is 7 p.m Monday. Students can register online at www.clubs.arizona.edu/~stopaids. More information about SGAC can be found at http://fightglobalaids.org.



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