Spread the word, not the virus

It’s not often that the Great hall is linked to the finer times in a Rhodent’s life. And while those in attendance were technically supposed to walk away with a weight of knowledge, rather than memories of the start of a good night out, the presence of ‘Big City bands’ Goldfish, Newtown and most notably, former Grahamstown-based band Cassette in our small town definitely made the Sharc HIV-A-LOUD Concert one of the highlights of HIV/AIDS week.

The showcase of talented local acts Cool G and the Supremacies, Youth Workshop Leader X, the RU Jazz Voice group and the surprise crowd-pleaser Razzmatazz as well as the hosts, local RMR DJ’s Spliff and Alude Mohali also lent a hand in helping getting the message across.  One wonders though whether events like the concert are indeed the best way to get more Rhodents keen on HIV/AIDS awareness. While the blown up condoms floating around, and the giving away of  HIV/AIDS ribbon Activist pins may have made it clear that the night was supposed to be dedicated to knowing ones status and raising  money towards charity its not certain whether these objectives were achieved. The alcohol was on sale was evident in the drunken actions of most of the crowd members and while SHARC did turn down sponsors for free promotional alcohol, one wonders how the combination of free condoms and alcohol works out in the end. The SHARC standpoint on the issue though is,”We are not an abolitionist society and understand that people are going to drink regardless; we try to spread a message of safe drinking and promote a safe lifestyle.”   Rumours of sponsors pulling out at the last minute- neither confirmed nor denied by SHARC- threatened to cast an unwanted shadow over the event but its was an undeniable success. Though the event was admittedly not flawless- the crowd was a bit thin, the venue was not ideal as the acoustics made most of the band hard to hear, some acts appeared to be less than adequately rehearsed- no one who purchased a ticket would be inclined to put forward that it was money wasted. Although usual Rhodent apathy towards any event linked to a good cause meant that the bands performed to a less packed venue then they may have been used to, the small crowd was determined to have fun. The most successful act of the night was without a doubt Cassette, who brought the house down, and had everyone jumping around like crazy. But the festivities were in the name of HIV/AIDS awareness and according to the SHARC president the message is simple “HIV is about you and has consequences for now and your future. It is not a death sentence, it is manageable but we have to take it into account. It’s all about spreading the word not the virus. I would like Rhodents to think about HIV to consider it in their everyday lives and the impact it has on them and their future. I would also like students to consider what they are doing to add to the problem or to stem it. Students need to be asking hard questions about themselves, their friends, their faculties and their behaviour.

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