posted November 29, 2006

Student Events Focus on Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic

A variety of activities have been scheduled at Hope College for Friday, Dec. 1, in conjunction with World AIDS Day to help build awareness on campus of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The events will begin with the college's chapel service at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The featured speaker will be senior Will Nettleton of Battle Creek, who is leader of the college's chapter of "Acting on AIDS" and will discuss the religious aspects of HIV/AIDS.

Some 1,250 stakes featuring photographs of HIV-affected children will be placed in the college's Pine Grove as part of the nationwide "Lives are at Stake" initiative coordinated by "Acting on AIDS," which has chapters at Christian colleges across the country and is a program of the World Vision Christian relief and development organization. Through "Lives at Stake," members of the participating campus communities are encouraged to take one of the photographs, read the accompanying story of the child, and then pray for the child. Hope is one of more than 80 Christian colleges participating in the "Lives are at Stake" program this year.

The Hope chapter of "Acting on AIDS" is also raising funds to support HIV testing and counseling in the village of Shikokho in western Kenya. The connection to Shikokho began through 2005 Hope graduate Dawn Flandermeyer, a second-year medical student at George Washington University. Flandermeyer spent eight weeks this past summer working in the village at the Shikokho Medical Center, which is a mission of the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C. Noting that no one in the village of 1,500 had been tested for HIV/AIDS, she began a voluntary counseling and testing program that started with 53 people this summer.

The fundraiser seeks to continue and expand the effort initiated by Flandermeyer. Among other activities, "Acting on AIDS" members will be working at Cold Stone Creamery at 5 W. Eighth St. on Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a portion of the proceeds they earn supporting the Shikokho project.

Additional information about the fundraiser, and about HIV/AIDS, will be available during the chapel service and at information booths at campus locations including the Pine Grove and immediately outside the Cook and Phelps dining halls.

According to UNAIDS, which is the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, an estimated 38.6 million people worldwide were living with HIV at the end of 2005. UNAIDS also estimates that 4.1 million became newly infected with HIV and 2.8 million lost their lives to AIDS that year. UNAIDS describes Africa as the global epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, with sub-Saharan Africa being most affected.