CCC seeks to dispel myths on World AIDS Day

November 28, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Carroll Community College will mark World AIDS Day with somber reminders and factual displays during a three-hour exhibit Wednesday in the Great Hall.

"If we can help clear up myths, educate people and change attitudes one person at a time, that is what matters," said Michael R. Barretti, a CCC instructor who is organizing the college's second awareness day.

From 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., AIDS patients, representatives from the Health Department and several AIDS organizations will discuss prevention, testing and the impact of the fatal disease. Three AIDS informational videos will play repeatedly throughout the day.

"It is important for everybody to learn as much as they can about the epidemic of our times," Mr. Barretti said.

A 12-by-12-foot panel from the national AIDS quilt also will decorate the hall. Each piece of the panel represents a 3-by-6-foot grave.

Sylvia Schneider, a volunteer in the AIDS unit at John Hopkins Hospital, where her son died three years ago, is lending the panel and will explain its significance. "We must continue to encourage awareness," she said. "This disease is everywhere."

While the virus spreads to all segments of society, Mr. Barretti said local interest in it is dwindling.

"Many people here [in Carroll County] still think AIDS only happens to an isolated segment of the population," he said.

Education is the only weapon that will halt the spread of AIDS, Mr. Barretti said.

"Unfortunately, ignorance and fear grow faster than education," he said.

In planning the CCC awareness day, Mr. Barretti said he sought a casual atmosphere and avoided a keynote speaker or formalized presentations.

"I hope students wander by and talk to whomever they want in a nonthreatening environment," he said. "They can browse and look at displays."

Perhaps students will share information they glean with family and friends, he said, because youths are most at risk from AIDS and many of them are still in the process of "forming life opinions."

"It is important for the students to learn to understand this disease kills people and not any specific group of people, and that it is in every county," Mr. Barretti said.

The event is not limited to students. It is intended for anyone interested in knowing more about AIDS. Mr. Barretti said he is encouraging the entire community to participate.

"The college's purpose is to teach; it educates the community," he said. "We must keep working to bring the community to higher awareness."

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