The story of World AIDS Day is a complex one as there are so many different stories from around the globe to tell in the 33 years that has passed since the first confirmed case of AIDS.
World AIDS Day was first held in 1988 in an attempt to try to shine light on some of those stories, and the day has been observed each year since on Dec. 1 to commemorate the lives that have been lost and re-focus on the work that still needs to be done.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS Free Generation” to bring attention to the goal of many activists, organizations and leaders to end new cases of HIV. In this year’s World AIDS Day Presidential Proclamation, President Barack Obama encourages people to “rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible -- when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus.” (The full text of this proclamation is below).
In recognition of World AIDS Day, community organizations, schools, churches, companies and even Prince Harry are honoring World AIDS Day by changing their Social Media profile images to red, to hosting events, rallies and remembrances. Some of these activities are noted below.
San Diego events
In San Diego County, a number of events are planned to recognize World AIDS Day, including an awards ceremony, a vigil and HIV testing.
The Walgreens at 301 University Ave. in Hillcrest is offering free, confidential HIV testing until 3:30 pm. More information is HERE.
At UC San Diego, a day of events is planned, including a viewing of a portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt until 9 pm, a meditation space, art display, musical and dance performances, HIV testing, information tables, a panel discussion and more. The day’s schedule is HERE.
San Diego City College will have an information fair and free, confidential HIV testing today from 11 am to 4 pm in Gorton Quad.
The 26th annual Dr. A. Brad Truax Awards Ceremony & Reception will be held at The San Diego LGBT Community Center from 3:30 to 5 pm. The award is given annually to recognize the outstanding overall contributions made by a person involved in the struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The ceremony is open to the public and will include light refreshments and displayed art. The Center is located at 3909 Centre St. in Hillcrest. More information is HERE.
Mama's Kitchen will host the "Tree of Life," the premier tree-lighting ceremony in San Diego County to mark World AIDS Day locally. It is the 23rd annual event, honoring those affected by AIDS and recognizing the ongoing leadership efforts made to end the worldwide epidemic. Community members are invited to the Village Hillcrest Plaza, 3995 Fifth Ave., for the ceremony at 6:15 pm. The event is free but ornaments will be available for purchase for those who wish to contribute. More information is HERE.
At the White House
The White House is hosting a live World AIDS Day discussion until 2 pm (EST). The event is happening now and can be viewed below.
President Obama issued his annual World AIDS Day Proclamation on Saturday, which is reprinted below.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In communities across our Nation and around the world, we have made extraordinary progress in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Just over three decades ago, when we knew only the devastation HIV inflicted, those living with it had to fight just to be treated with dignity and compassion, and since the first cases of AIDS were reported, tens of millions of vibrant men and women have lost their lives to this deadly virus. Today, we have transformed what it means to live with HIV/AIDS. More effective prevention, treatment, and care now save millions of lives while awareness has soared and research has surged. This World AIDS Day, we come together to honor all those who have been touched by HIV/AIDS and celebrate the promising public health and scientific advances that have brought us closer to our goal of an AIDS-free generation.
Since I took office, more people who are infected with HIV have learned of their status, allowing them to access the essential care that can improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent transmission of the virus to others. My Administration has made strides to limit new infections and reduce HIV-related disparities and health inequalities, and we have nearly eliminated the waiting list for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. For many, with testing and access to the right treatment, a disease that was once a death sentence now offers a good chance for a healthy and productive life.
Despite these gains, too many with HIV/AIDS, especially young Americans, still do not know they are infected; too many communities, including gay and bisexual men, African Americans, and Hispanics remain disproportionately impacted; and too many individuals continue to bear the burden of discrimination and stigma. There is more work to do, and my Administration remains steadfast in our commitment to defeating this disease. Guided by our National HIV/AIDS Strategy, we are working to build a society where every person has access to life-extending care, regardless of who they are or whom they love. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as HIV/AIDS, and requires that most health plans cover HIV screenings without copays for everyone ages 15 to 65 and others at increased risk. We have expanded opportunities for groundbreaking research, and we continue to invest in innovation to develop a vaccine and find a cure. And this summer, my Administration held a series of listening sessions across the country to better understand the successes and challenges of those fighting HIV at the local and State level.
In the face of a disease that extends far beyond our borders, the United States remains committed to leading the world in the fight against HIV/AIDS and ensuring no one is left behind. Hundreds of thousands of adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every year, and we are working to reach and assist them and every community in need. As part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, over 7 million people with HIV around the globe are receiving antiretroviral treatment, a four-fold increase since the start of my Administration. In countries throughout the world, our initiatives are improving the lives of women and girls, accelerating life-saving treatment for children, and supporting healthy, robust communities.
As a Nation, we have made an unwavering commitment to bend the curve of the HIV epidemic, and the progress we have seen is the result of countless people who have shared their stories, lent their strength, and led the fight to spare others the anguish of this disease. Today, we remember all those who lost their battle with HIV/AIDS, and we recognize those who agitated and organized in their memory. On this day, let us rededicate ourselves to continuing our work until we reach the day we know is possible -- when no child has to know the pain of HIV/AIDS and no life is limited by this virus.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2014, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join me in appropriate activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Human Rights Campaign
In honor of World AIDS Day, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement by Jeff Krehely, vice president and chief foundation officer.
“With significant medical breakthroughs since World AIDS Day was first conceived in 1987, our community should be well on the path toward ending HIV. Sadly, though the rate of new infections has remained roughly the same over the past decade, the reality is that incidence of HIV is on the rise among only one group that’s tracked in the U.S. – gay and bisexual men. For transgender people, the little data that exists indicates staggering rates – both in the U.S. and globally. And when you shine a spotlight on young people, on communities of color, on older generations, on people living in the American South, you start to see how much more has to be done to end the deep disparities in HIV prevention, treatment and care. This World AIDS Day, we recommit to work for those often forgotten in the battle against HIV.”
As part of these efforts, the HRC Foundation has released a new research brief entitled “Transgender People and HIV: What We Know,” and HRC.org this week will be featuring the stories of individuals living with HIV.
As part of Prince Harry’s #FeelNoShame campaign, the 30-year-old royal today shared a secret of his own: that he suffers from anxiety. The campaign was created in support of children who feel too ashamed to tell anyone that they have HIV. His goal is to get people to share their secrets of any kind so that it is known there is no shame in sharing.
In a video message, Harry said the following.
"Today, World AIDS Day, my secret is, believe it or not, I get incredibly nervous before public speaking, no matter how big the crowd or the audience. Despite the fact that I laugh and joke all the time, I get incredibly nervous, if not anxious actually, before going into rooms full of people when I'm wearing a suit. Now that I've confessed that, I'll probably be even more worried that people are looking at me. But, thank you very much for everyone who's taken part, and I must encourage as many people to get involved as possible."
More about Prince Harry’s campaign is HERE.
More information and resources about World AIDS Day are available on AIDS.gov.