LECOM campuses observe World AIDS Day

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine observed World AIDS Day on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, with ceremonies and displays at campuses in Erie, Greensburg, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla.

LECOM Erie students lined up in the atrium to form a red ribbon to commemorate World AIDS Day on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010.

Students, faculty and staff at each site were encouraged to wear red on Wednesday, with nearly 150 participants between the Erie and Bradenton campuses using all that red to create large red human ribbons.

In addition, the Erie campus displayed a HIV/AIDS-themed quilt and a red ribbon tree throughout the week to acknowledge those who have died or have been affected by the disease, while the Christian Medical Club at LECOM Seton Hill created a World AIDS Day poster display and distributed brochures to educate peers on HIV/AIDS.

The purpose of the Medical Club's display was to raise awareness of the impact HIV/AIDS has on communities and individuals around the world. The display gives a face and name to the disease, inviting passers-by to take with them a portrait and story of someone effected by the disease. The stories highlight that HIV/AIDS affects multiple generations at once, destroying families and entire communities.

World AIDS Day has been commemorated at LECOM for at least a decade, according to Richard Ortoski, D.O., AAHIVMS, professor of Family Medicine and director of the Northwestern Pennsylvania World AIDS Alliance.

LECOM Bradenton students also lined up to fashion a large red ribbon in observance of World AIDS Day.

Our students need to know that there are patients out there with HIV/AIDS who need their care,” said Dr. Ortoski. “I think that the since the disease affects a diverse population, AIDS awareness helps students understand the diversity of all diseases. Whether the diversity issue is race, gender or orientation, the fact of the matter is that these future physicians will have to treat people with HIV, and they should feel comfortable and empathetic as they would with every other patient.”

“Dr. Ortoski does a great job explaining HIV/AIDS and the way it affects our patients,” said second-year Erie medical student Matthew Perry, who performed with the choir for his second World AIDS Day event. “Dr. Ortoski reminds us all of the difficulties faced by those who have AIDS. It’s an event that helps fight the stigma that exists and encourages education about AIDS.”

The Christian Medical Club for LECOM at Seton Hill observed World Aids Day with a poster presentation. Pictured from left are club advisor Karen Benedum, M.D., project organizer Maryann Salib, and club president Hope Kummant.

Red could be seen throughout the halls and classrooms of each campus as participants acknowledged the importance of a disease where more than 33 million worldwide and an estimated 1.1 million Americans are affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).The CDC also estimates that 53,600 Americans are newly infected each year.

Beyond wearing red, a few student organizations in Erie helped spread the word about World AIDS Day to groups outside of the college. The LECOM Musical Ensemble, the Erie campus’ choir, performed during Wednesday’s ceremony.


The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life’s profession.


December 1, 2010
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