May 8, 2012
About 40 students took part in Sunday's annual "Red Party" HIV/AIDS awareness event in the Ohio Union at Ohio State University. Whereas in years past the event had a more formal tone and featured panel discussions, this year's gathering took a "fun and uplifting" approach, said Mike Cerutti, a sophomore and co-chair of the sponsoring Pay It Forward committee. Committee members wore red capes and headbands; participants decorated an AIDS quilt and held a "fun run and walk."
Due to Sunday's pleasant weather, those inside were greatly outnumbered by sunbathers on the campus Oval. Even so, Melissa Rotblatt, a junior and the event's event co-chair, said, "Every single person you can communicate to has an effect."
The featured speaker was Tyler TerMeer, director of the Ohio AIDS Coalition. "There is this silence and complacency that has set in with this epidemic," said TerMeer, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2004 as a junior.
"If one of us has HIV, we're all living in a world with HIV," TerMeer said.
"AIDS has been normalized," Katherine E. Shumate, the state Department of Health's HIV care administrator, said last week, noting that people may be worn out from being on high alert for so long. Although early diagnosis can help with managing HIV, people today are still dying from AIDS-related illnesses, Shumate said.