ISU Headlines

Public invited to create wearable art for World AIDS Day

Posted November 26, 2008

In commemoration of World AIDS Day, the Idaho State University Women’s Issues and Sexual Empowerment (WISE) program is joining with the ISU Genesis Project to raise awareness about safe sex.

The organizations are sponsoring a drop-in art event where participants can create a wearable brooch made from a wrapped condom. The event is scheduled Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Rendezvous Complex, Room B, on the ISU campus.

This event is free and is open to the public.

Condom pins, while new to Pocatello, have been used worldwide as an HIV education and prevention tool.

“It gets the condoms into people’s hands and gets them comfortable handling them. Once they’re a little more familiar with condoms, it’s easier for people to start using them,” explained Heidi Harold, a WISE educator.  

The condom pins represent a departure from past World AIDS Day commemoration events. “For the last several years, we’ve had sections from the AIDS Memorial Quilt on campus for World AIDS Day,” said Harold. “While it’s always very moving for those who view the quilt, we weren’t sure that the impact was reaching out into the Pocatello community. When you see someone wearing a condom pin, though, it’s kind of hard to miss.”

HealthCorps volunteer Deanna Johnson agrees, stating “It’s a conversation starter. It really creates an opportunity for the wearer to encourage her friends to remember to use condoms.”

While Johnson and Harold see the condom pin art project as a way to have fun, the underlying message is serious. According to the Center for Disease Control, as of 2006, it was estimated that there were 356 HIV-positive people and an additional 313 people living with AIDS in Idaho.  

While HIV has long been associated with men, growing numbers of women have been infected with the virus. The CDC notes that, given a continuation of HIV infection rates worldwide, women who are infected may soon outnumber HIV-positive men.

Educational handouts about HIV will be available at the World AIDS Day event, and Johnson and Harold will be present to answer questions. Johnson and Harold also recommend the CDC’s HIV website, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/ as an excellent source for further information.

Established in 2003 through a grant from the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, WISE is a peer-led program promoting the overall health and well-being of women between the ages of 18 and 40, including the prevention of HIV infection.

For more information about the condom pins event, or World AIDS Day, contact Deanna Johnson or Heidi Harold at (208) 282-2805, or via e-mail at stradean@isu.edu or haroheid@isu.edu. Worldwide AIDS Day has been observed internationally on Dec. 1 since 1988.