Students gathered at the fountain in front of Old Main last night for a candlelight vigil in honor of World AIDS Day.
The vigil, jointly hosted by the UA Student National Medical Association and the American Medical Students Association, included an acrobatic yoga performance, harp music, a meditation and poems and stories from HIV patients.
""We wanted something more quiet and mellow to give people time to reflect on what's going on,"" said Chinenye Anako, a second-year medical school student and World AIDS Week coordinator.
To start the vigil, the yoga performers did a routine to a song using their arms and legs to hold one another in various poses.
""By displaying how we support each other, we can also display how we support HIV community,"" said Emily Wilkinson, a second-year medical student and co-chair of the Global Health Forum. ""There's still a lot of stigma associated with it,"" she said. ""It's not a problem we solved.""
Participants read stories taken from students' experiences working with HIV patients in the community as well as from online resources. The stories ranged from a middle-aged single mom to a young South African woman to a grandmother. Though these people have faced and still do face grave challenges, they shared a surprising optimism and overall acceptance of their disease. Expressions such as ""I am so happy to be alive"" and ""I like me"" were shared in the stories.
Candles that spelled out HIV and AIDS were placed on either side of the fountain. At the conclusion of the ceremony, participants placed their candles between the ones that spelled out HIV and AIDS to show the link between the two.
""We want to remember people who are going through life with this illness,"" Anako said.
Shreya Patel, a second-year medical student and co-chair of the Global Health Forum, stressed the significance of the vigil.
""I thought it was really beautiful,"" she said. ""And it was really great for us who live in such a fortunate, developed country and aren't really touched by HIV typically too often … to take a second and think about people who might be touched by it every day.""