Students at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville recently observed World AIDS Day with a variety of actions and activities.

Students spent a day lining the pedestrian walkway to the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial Student Center holding banners citing statistics and other information regarding the disease that has caused a global pandemic. There were also tables with information regarding community organizations with direct links to the HIV/AIDS community.

One banner said, “Still think you’re not at risk?” Others provided stats such as how many people are infected and die daily. 

“Overall all the events were very well attended, and I believe we reopened students’ eyes and minds to the dangers of HIV. You also must consider that many of the students are freshman and [are] really starting to explore sex and need to know the risks involved with HIV and unprotected sex,” states Donna Dearmon, President of the University of Tennessee Lambda Student Union.

“We handed out WAD ribbons and condoms to students as they passed and had all those community organizations there to show what support there was in the community and educate them on the risks,” added Dearmon.

“And the Band Played On” was presented later in the evening in the Lindsay Young Auditorium along with on-site oral HIV testing courtesy of the Knoxville Health Department. The Knoxville Health Department Centers of Excellence Kristin Ehrens coordinated the on-site testing.

Samaritan ministries donated banners. Mitchell Ronningen coordinated the effort. Messages included questions regarding risk, statistics regarding undiagnosed infected persons, increasing risk status for women and children, and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Other messages on point included the increasing number of people ages 15-24 in the population of newly diagnosed HIV infections. Their most astounding message pointed out the fact that over 40 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV.

Nikki Walles coordinated the overall events and has generously done so for the last several years.

The Lambda Student Union provides a means of communication between gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, questioning, and straight students at the University of Tennessee , Knoxville . They serve the area through various educational programs, social activities, and political actions. Weekly meetings serve as a way of organizing and unifying our community to bring attention to issues, which affect each of us — regardless of our sexualities. For further information, find them online at or contact Donna Dearmon at
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