Medical students support Give a Day to World AIDS

Medical students at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are throwing their energy behind the Give a Day to World AIDS campaign developed by Western (MD’84) graduate Dr. Jane Philpott.

Give a Day to World AIDS recognizes World AIDS Day, December 1 each year, by urging supporters to give one day’s income to an organization that will use the money well in the fight against AIDS.

The program started on Dec. 1, 2004 at Markham Stouffville Hospital. Philpott had challenged colleagues to donate a day’s income to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and more than $33,000 was raised.

Western’s medical students heard about the campaign in the spring when Philpott spoke to them about the role of health care professionals in global health and medical overseas volunteering, says Sarah Knowles, president of the Hippocratic Society.

“At the time we weren’t really sure what we could do as students to support this initiative, since we aren’t earning a regular income.”

So, instead of their income, students have chosen to throw moral support behind the idea by raising awareness about HIV, studying about AIDS, volunteering or making a nominal donation.

A number of specific initiatives are planned:

Making donations to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International, in exchange for a red ribbon Wearing red on World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) to raise awareness Watching informative videos on our breaks between classes in order to have a better understanding of the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic Contributing thoughts, ideas and knowledge to the large red ribbon display which will be up throughout the week of Dec. 1-5 in the Medical Sciences Building (look for the large red cloth ribbon in the hallway with quotes and facts pinned to it – students are encouraged to add their own thoughts) Attending a speaker panel next semester, which highlights the issues faced by those living with HIV/AIDS

Encouraging faculty and staff within the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to “give a day” through stories on the Schulich website (see www.schulich.uwo.ca), letters to the dean, and presentations at meetings attended by various Schulich departments

“Medical students have chosen to support “Give a Day to World AIDS” because of the importance of raising awareness and funds for such an significant initiative,” says Knowles.

“Both the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Dignitas International do incredible work to help stop the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS and to support those people who are most affected.”

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic is ravaging parts of the world, and I think that as future health care professionals in such a privileged country it is our responsibility to do something about it. Whether or not we ever work in a global health setting, the impact of HIV/AIDS is felt around the world and it something we should be knowledge about it and be able to provide support for.”

The Give a Day campaign is a uniquely Canadian response to the scourge of AIDS and is no longer specific to physicians. For example, in 2006 a group of lawyers adopted the idea and tailored it to their profession.

In 2007, almost $700,000 was raised.