Rowan University students who are a part of oSTEM join in marching to cure aids in Philly this weekend. -Contributor/Vince Ceraso

Amidst the rainy cold Sunday morning of Oct. 21, thousands of people gathered outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the 32nd annual Philly AIDS Walk. This historic 5-kilometer walk, sponsored by AIDS Fund, is held every year to bring awareness to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Delaware Valley, and to raise money for AIDS research.

“The HIV/AIDS epidemic has evolved over the last 30 years, so AIDS Fund has evolved its mission to create an even greater impact on the lives of those living with HIV disease in our community,” wrote Aids Walk Philly. “Beginning in 2017, AIDS Fund started providing support to the most vulnerable people in our community living with HIV by providing emergency financial assistance for critical life needs.”

The event began at 8:00 a.m. with guest speakers from local AIDS activists, as well as hosts from 93.3 WMMR and KYW Newsradio, all of them using their platforms to bring attention to the AIDS crisis, which is particularly troubling in the Philadelphia region. More than 30,000 people in the city are infected with HIV/AIDS, which is three times the national average. One of the important topics covered by the guest speakers was the use of the PrEP medication, which, according to the CDC, has been proven to reduce the risk of full-blown AIDS by over 90%.

Among the sea of people walking that day were several of Rowan University’s finest. Members of the Rowan chapter of oSTEM braved the harsh weather and walked for an amazing cause that has helped improve the lives of thousands living with the virus in the greater Philadelphia area.

“Specifically, with the AIDS crisis, it’s a problem that people don’t realize is still happening,” said Darby Riley, president of Rowan oSTEM. “[We’re] raising awareness and helping people to understand that the AIDS crisis is an ongoing problem, and it’s something that we need to continue fighting against. That’s a big deal, especially for an educational organization like oSTEM.”

oSTEM, which stands for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, is a nationwide organization that works to promote LGBTQIA+ diversity in the professional workplace and encourage students to strive for success.

Like the other LGBTQIA+ collectives at Rowan University, Rowan oSTEM is no stranger to charity events. These include the Philly AIDS Thrift in December and the Out of Darkness Walk in April. Rowan oSTEM is also heavily involved with Transgender Awareness Week in November as well as Pride Week in April.

oSTEM at Rowan meets every other Friday at 3:30 p.m. in REXT 140.

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