Cooking Up an Exciting World AIDS Day with Team Chicago

By Eric Perry on December 12, 2013 in AmeriCorps, World AIDS Day

To commemorate World AIDS Day (December 1, 2013), Team Chicago hosted an HIV testing event at Kendall College, a local college which specializes in culinary arts and hospitality.

This testing event not only provided us an opportunity to run an event on our own (without immediate aid or supervision of any other organizations), but it required us to work in an environment we weren’t used to, and with a population that our organizations rarely target. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for us, and perhaps more so for the Kendall College students.

We had a full day planned, which involved passing out condom packets (with candy, of course), HIV and other health information brochures, and providing free confidential rapid HIV testing to those who were interested.

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Eric arranging condom packets and brochures

Initially, we received a lot of interesting looks and responses. Many of us are accustomed to working in LGBT locations or clinics, where the ideas of practicing safer sex and seeking HIV testing are often drilled into you at every opportunity, so it was surprising, but reminded us that HIV can still carry a large amount of stigma in the rest of the world.

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Kassandra, Eric, and Sara providing outreach (and fun!)

Some students were very cautious about interacting with us, but would discreetly grab condom packets as they passed. Eventually, a few students warmed up enough to us to get tested. By the end of the event, we interacted with over 50 Kendall College students (and staff!), and tested over 20 people. Interestingly, only 1 of the students we tested identified as a male. This emphasized to us the importance of being aware of the many populations that could be affected by HIV, and of not being limited in our thinking of the people we should be targeting.

Team Chicago World AIDS Day

Team Chicago after a job well done!

A few days following the World AIDS Day event, Team Chicago volunteered with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s World of Chocolate (an annual event that raises money to support AFC’s many programs by providing guests with a room full of myriad chocolate-themed concoctions). One of the many chocolatiers at the event was none other than Kendall College, with some students we’d interacted with even recognizing and thanking us for providing testing and information.

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A selection of the delicious chocolate provided by Kendall College!

It was a tasty end to a great week and World AIDS Day!

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Team Chicago at AIDS Foundation of Chicago event World of Chocolate

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