St. Michael’s students call on Vermont lawmakers to fight global AIDS

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Students from Saint Michael’s College sported hard hats and work boots as they marched up Church Street Friday afternoon with unique road signs in hand.

“There’s a lot of construction that needs to be done,” said senior Jonah Hunt. “And by that, I mean construction of new systems.”

New systems that will help fight the global AIDS pandemic and lower the cost of prescription drugs. Students made stops at both Senator Patrick Leahy’s office and the office of Senator Bernie Sanders to remind the lawmakers now is the time to “get to work” on the issue.

“Know that Bernie supports efforts to increase screening, prevention, and treatment to communities most at risk,” said Katarina Lisaius, with Sen. Sanders’ office.

For faculty leader Trish Siplon, the work is personal.

“If you want to change the status quo, this is how you do it,” she said.

While working in Tanzania, Siplon witnessed the disease claim several lives because of lack of treatment.

“I was the person that told them these drugs existed and the only reason they didn’t have them is because people didn’t care about making them accessible in developing countries,” she said.

Activists say if they can increase access to treatment, we can actually ‘treat our way’ out of the epidemic and be an AIDS-free generation by 2030.

“It’s a fight to secure treatment for those currently living with AIDS,” Hunt said. “So the next generation doesn’t have to deal with this at all.”

There are currently 1 million people in the United States living with AIDS.

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