A Week 4 Life hosted an art expo to showcase participants’ feelings toward sexual health through photography, painting, song and spoken word Thursday night in the Shalala Student Center.
The organization is a programming board dedicated to educating the University of Miami community on issues regarding HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. It was their fifth annual art expo.
“We wanted to think of a creative way to get our message out there and promote the organization,” said Morgan McClure, education chair for A Week 4 Life.
Sophomore Antonio Mercurius wrote an original poem specifically for the event.
“Being a Black, gay male, HIV and AIDS [is] a very serious thing especially, being from D.C. where AIDS is a top thing there. It’s something that hits close to home,” said Mercurius.
In his poem he encouraged the audience to go get tested for HIV, stating that it is the only test that you want to fail and citing the statistics of the many people that die from the disease. He said he hopes that the audience took away the importance of getting tested.
“It may be hard to go in and get tested but at the end of the day, it’s your life,” said Mercurius.
The art expo provided a platform for students to talk freely about sex and display their perceptions on the topic.
Coordinator intern for Health Outreach Peer Educator (H.O.P.E.), Asmaa Odeh, photographed the calla flower to represent the different parts of the female vagina. The purpose of Odeh’s exhibition was to teach students about the sexual anatomy of the female body through the medium of photography.
“Most people do not know what parts can lead to certain infections if you do not take preventive measures,” Odeh said. “Healthcare and public health education is half the cure.”
During the event, McClure informed the audience of her personal connection with the HIV/AIDS virus. In 2006, her aunt was diagnosed with the disease, and due to mental health issues, she could not understand the importance of taking her medicine. She died shortly after being diagnosed. Before passing away, her dying wish was to go to Africa.
In honor of her aunt, McClure’s family raised and donated money to build a hospital in Swaziland, Africa. The hospital was built through Heart for Africa, a non-profit public charity fostering children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and teaching the surviving adults how to stabilize their economy through exports.
This year A Week 4 Life will donate all of the proceeds from their Pie-A-Leader event on Friday to Heart for Africa, a charity that supports children in the small country of Swaziland.