Today is the 20th annual World AIDS Day, a day set aside to remember those who have died of HIV/AIDS and those who are living with HIV/AIDS. It’s also a day to remind ourselves that we all are affected by this disease. Today, many of us are wearing red ribbon pins. Many of us have placed red ribbon photos on social networking sites. Many of us will be attending HIV/AIDS breakfasts or seminars. Many of us are blogging about HIV/AIDS.
Do any of these events really matter? Roughly 35 million people worldwide are infected. 14,000 people become newly infected every day. Will wearing a red ribbon or attending a breakfast change that? Sometimes, the pessimist in me says no. But then I look around at the various activities going on and think differently. Never underestimate the power of small actions. Never underestimate the power of one.
At Davidson College, groups of students are making a difference. For several years now, the members of Warner Hall, a women’s eating house at Davidson, have hosted the Red and Black Ball, a charity event for HIV/AIDS. This year, the proceeds will benefit Metrolina AIDS Project in Charlotte and Thyatira Hospital in Mwandi. The members of Warner Hall also help Metrolina AIDS Project in other ways. Recently, I joined them on a Saturday morning to make condom packets – small bags containing condoms and information about getting tested for HIV – to be distributed at local bars and clubs.
Students at Davidson College make condom packets for Metrolina AIDS Project
This effort, though, is not solely an extracurricular activity. In a mutually beneficial partnership, the students in my Biology course on HIV/AIDS cooperate with Warner Hall on some of these projects. Together, we have sponsored screenings of movies like 3 Needles, volunteered at a local HIV/AIDS benefit triathlon, collected toys for the annual Metrolina AIDS Project holiday party, and organized speakers and symposia. Academic and extracurricular activities are wonderfully joined.
Volunteers getting ready for their assignments at a triathlon to benefit Metrolina AIDS Project
None of these events, individually or even in total, will end the AIDS Pandemic. But each and every one of these events does make a difference. Maybe one person will receive a condom packet and, as a result, not become infected. Maybe the money sent to Mwandi will help provide care for a child in need. Maybe one person who listens to a seminar will enter a career of public service. Maybe all of us will be a little more aware.
Today, I’m wearing my red ribbon. Today, I’m blogging about HIV/AIDS. Today, I’m attending an HIV/AIDS breakfast. Today, in some small way, some almost imperceptible way, I’m making a difference. We all can make a difference. Never underestimate the power of one.