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Shrouded Art and Film Will Highlight World AIDS Day

Covered sculpture
Davidson’s outdoor sculptures are traditionally shrouded on World AIDS Day.

Though the medical community is making great strides in treating and preventing HIV/AIDS, Davidson's biology department will recognize World AIDS Day on Thursday, Dec. 1 to acknowledge that people continue to suffer and die from the disease.

Professor of Biology Dave Wessner, who teaches a course in "The Biology of HIV/AIDS," will introduce a public screening of the video "Compulsive Practice" at 4:30 p.m. in the Alvarez College Union.

Earlier in the day a group of art students will cover the college's half dozen outdoor sculptures with cloth sheets to emphasize the effects of "A Day Without Art." The action is intended to create a visual signal reminding viewers how much art and creativity has been lost to the world due to the death of many artists in the AIDS epidemic.

The Davidson campus community has shown long-standing support for efforts to treat those infected with HIV. Warner Hall eating house stages an annual Red and Black Ball to raise funds for the effort. The beneficiaries of this year's event were the Mwandi Mission Hospital in Zambia and the Charlotte-based Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.

In addition to his class, Wessner has led small groups of students to attend the semi-annual International AIDS Conference. Three students accompanied him earlier this year to the event, which was held in Durban, South Africa. The students recorded their experiences there in a blog.

Wessner said that efforts to curb HIV/AIDS are becoming more effective.

"Things are more hopeful than they've been in quite a while," he said. "The holy grail of a vaccine has not been developed yet, but progress is being made. New infections are being prevented, and treatment of people who are infected is more effective. Despite these advancements, it's important that we continue to fund research, treatment and education programs. We don't want to lose ground now."

Bill Giduz