By Nick Jensen
Contributor

To observe World AIDS Day, the student organization PRIDE will hold a benefit dinner Dec. 1 in the College Commons. The money raised will benefit the Lorain County AIDS Task Force and fund future club events. The benefit will be held at 4 p.m. Tickets for the dinner are $30, which also includes admission to the Holiday Choral Concert taking place the same evening at Stocker Center. Reservations are due Nov. 28.
World AIDS Day is an international event that focuses on raising AIDS awareness and remembering those lost to the disease. Since its first observation on Dec. 1, 1988, World AIDS Day has become a widely recognized event.
Dr. Harry Kestler, a biology and genetics professor at LCCC and longtime HIV biologist, helped to arrange the event. Kestler is also the faculty advisor of the Pride Club and a member of the Lorain County AIDS Task Force. The task force assists people with HIV and AIDS with medical and housing needs, providing food and sometimes assisting with utility bills. The money raised at the event will help stock the task force’s pantry with much-needed food for HIV positive individuals.
It will also help PRIDE club bring future events to LCCC. According to Kestler, the club members have been hoping to get the AIDS Memorial Quilt to help raise awareness. The quilt is made up of panels that serve as a memorial to someone who has died of AIDS. According to www.aidsquilt.org, more than 94,000 individuals are represented on the quilt.
“It’s moving to actually see it,” said Kestler. “I think it’s one of the things that caused people to think ‘Oh my God, that’s someone’s brother, that’s someone’s uncle.’ It helps to break down that wall.” The club also hopes to sponsor speakers in the spring semester.
At the World AIDS Day benefit there will be a silent auction in which those in attendance can bid on donated and crafted items. Three sets of speakers are lined up to give presentations about awareness and research. One of the presenting groups is a group of Early College students who have been studying gene therapy that focuses on HIV and AIDS.
To further observe World AIDS day, free AIDS testing will be available Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. This will also take place in the College Center, and is open to everyone. There will also be a health fair going on that will give information about HIV and AIDS and health in general. Kestler stated that he will be getting tested and that he has “gained a lot of faith in humanity” based on the awareness of HIV and AIDS and the acceptance of those with HIV or AIDS. For more information about World AIDS Day, visit www.worldaidsday.org

Valerie Morris contributed to this article.