The Pediatric Aids Coalition at UCLA raised $317,599.29 at this year’s Dance Marathon, a $116,915.71 decrease from last year.
The event, which PAC hosts annually, featured performances by student groups and outside performers, celebrity guest speakers and speakers from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the UCLA AIDS Institute. Dance Marathon aims to raise money to fight pediatric AIDS and HIV.
Dancers each donate $260 toward the cause to participate and try to stay on their feet for 26 hours, according to PAC’s website. Last year’s participants raised $434,515 for the event.
Nicole Tobin, a specialist in pediatric infectious disease and one of the speakers at the event, spoke on behalf of the UCLA AIDS Institute about her research on mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She said without medication, a mother with HIV/AIDS has an about 40 percent chance of infecting her child with the virus, either in utero, during birth or from breastfeeding.
“With the medicine we give to mothers, rates (of infection) in developed countries are down to 1 percent, but globally the problem is much greater, … we’re working to get to zero (infants infected),” she said.
UCLA researchers discovered that even infants who are not infected but were born to HIV-positive mothers experience double the mortality rates of infants who were never exposed to the virus, Tobin said.
Several students said they participated in Dance Marathon because they hope to contribute to fighting pediatric AIDS and HIV and the stigma surrounding them.
Izzy Armitage, a first-year international development studies student, said at the event that she has been inspired to become more active in contributing to the cause after witnessing so many other students coming together to support it.
“(AIDS/HIV) is preventable,” she said. “Our actions have a tangible effect.”
Magdalena Palavecino, a first-year human biology and society student, said she does not think many people get tested for HIV in her home country of Chile, and so many teens infected with HIV do not know they have the disease. She added she learned more about advocating for HIV testing at the event and thinks having more open conversations about HIV testing will help end the stigma around it.
“It’s cool (we’re talking) about something clubs don’t usually talk about, and it’s not something you see all the time,” Palavecino said.
Paige Black, a third-year human biology and society student and director of public relations for PAC, said she thinks young people today do not always feel the urgency of the fight against AIDS and HIV as much as the previous generation did during the AIDS epidemic. She said she appreciates that events like Dance Marathon encourage even those who do not have a personal stake in these issues to talk about and come together against HIV and AIDS.
“It’s a really important cause that’s affected a lot of people in the past 30 to 40 years,” she said. “I’m really invested in it because my uncle passed away from HIV when I was younger, so HIV has been something my family has been talking about my entire life.”
Contributing reports from Melissa Morris, Laurel Scott, Sonia Aronson and Joy Harjanto, Daily Bruin staff.