Originally conceived by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter of UNAIDS of the World Health Organization, World AIDS Day was initially observed on December 1, 1988. From then on, it has served as an important day in order to raise awareness of the medical strides made toward this ongoing pandemic, reflect upon the global impact of HIV/AIDS, and ultimately mourn the individuals that have died from the unfortunate disease. Nonetheless, on December 1, 2016 WorldMed, a student run organization on the USC Health Sciences Campus, partnered with the Eric Cohen Student Health Center of USC and AltaMed, a health organization that provides quality health services to underserved communities, in order to renew their commitment to a future free of HIV.
Throughout the day, the WorldMed booth provided free informational pamphlets, condoms, and HIV testing in order to raise HIV/AIDS awareness. Although the number of those newly diagnosed with HIV in the United States has significantly declined since 2005 that does not eradicate the strong efforts in public education regarding HIV/AIDS prevention. In fact, greater educational efforts should be made in vulnerable populations. As a result, WorldMed aimed to remind current and future healthcare professionals of their responsibility to serve their communities not only with quality healthcare services, but also with the appropriate knowledge to protect themselves and their loved ones from the HIV pandemic.
During World AIDS Day, passersby were asked to help spread awareness of the global AIDS pandemic by posing with relevant props for photographs to be featured on the student organization’s various social media platforms. The pictures will be utilized in hopes of prompting action in order to reduce HIV incidence rates and encourage individuals to learn more. Furthermore, WorldMed distributed information packets ranging from LGBTQ+ friendly health providers and HIV/AIDS resources by the handful during the event. Ultimately, the event served as a public service announcement to not only keep the disease at the forefront of the healthcare community’s mind, but also in order to celebrate how far they have come in improving the quality of life for those suffering from the HIV/AIDS and the significant success in reducing the numbers of those newly diagnosed with the disease throughout various populations.
A small fundraiser, which included the sales of Porto’s bakery goods and red ribbons, was also held with proceeds going toward Discovering Dialysis to help provide accessible dialysis machines to patients in various underserved communities. Ultimately, WorldMed does not only promote global health issues within the local community, but also seeks opportunities to be the hand that creates a lasting sustainable difference across the globe. WorldMed aims to create a platform in which undergraduates, graduates, prospective students, faculty, and staff can discuss and eliminate existing critical health challenges. Throughout the program, WorldMed hopes that its comprehensive effort to address international health topics and promote awareness in communities will enable its members to make a sustainable impact on the global burden of disease.