World AIDS Day to bring 900 students to Empire State Plaza Convention Center

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State is recognizing Wednesday as
World AIDS Day to remember individuals who have died from the disease and those
who currently are affected.

The Department of Health is inviting students and the
public to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center to educate the Capital
Region and observe the day.

A group of speakers from the Young Adult Consumer
Advising Committee of the State Health

Department are telling their personal stories about the
effects of HIV/AIDS.

Dorian Jaypaat of the
Bronx said “expressing my story, it helps fight the stigma.”

Organizers say about 900 students will be in convention
center to hear those stories to bring awareness to the virus.
At the convention center, quilts lined the walls for the students to see.

Mary Lou Hamlin or “Moo”
of the “Names Project” said the quilts are memorials for the people who passed
away from the virus. She explained it is an effective way for people to see how
real the disease is.

“We are recognizing
the disease and we are celebrating these people's lives,” said Hamlin. “We are
not mourning their deaths.”

One speaker, Raven Lopez, 23, of Brooklyn says she was
born with HIV. The message she wants to send out is how the virus is not
stopping her from living day to day. She
also says she's been discriminated and judged by others but wants to let people
know she's like anybody else.

“By doing this work by outreach I want people to
understand I'm human and I'm not the virus,” said Lopez. “I can do what you
guys do. I can have a boyfriend, I can look nice. I can party. I can do whatever
and live a human life.”

After those affected by HIV/AIDS spoke, students were able
to engage and ask questions.

Lopez suggests people should get themselves tested in
order to stay protected against the virus.

This event will be held until 5 p.m. on Wednesday. It's a
free event and open to the public. 

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