World AIDS Day is on December 1

World AIDS Day, designated on December 1st every year since 1988, is an international event dedicated to raising awareness of the deadly pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

At the end of 2021, AIDS has killed 37 million people worldwide, and an estimated 40 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.

World AIDS Day is one of the eleven official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, World Patient Safety Day and World Chagas Disease Day.

The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The HIV virus attacks the immune system of the patient and reduces its resistance to other ‘diseases’.

“It’s an opportunity to bring the community together and remind us that HIV and AIDS are not over–at a time when our communities are dealing with the parallels between the early years of HIV and AIDS and now, COVID-19 and MPV,” said GMHC Community Relations Director Krishna Stone, who said this year’s theme is Out of the Darkness.

“We continue to do it because there are still people contracting HIV and people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS,” Stone said of the Out of the Darkness evening, which is marking its 31st year.

“It’s about us taking care of us, and bringing our voices to the table,” she explained. “It’s about creating coalitions and communities and forming nurturing partnerships with other community-based organizations, elected officials, and allies.”

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to end the HIV epidemic for good, but we must also continue fighting the stigma still experienced by people living with HIV. Public support can help us realize our vision of a future where HIV is no barrier to health or equality.

An estimated 38 million people are living with HIV globally, and over 35 million people have died of AIDS-related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Out of the Darkness is an evening of remembrance, mourning, reflection, inspiration–and also joy. It will convene people living with HIV and AIDS, people who’ve lost loved ones to AIDS, families who’ve been affected, friends and allies, including clergy, elected officials, and staff from community organizations.

GRID or Gay-Related Immune Deficiency was the name first given in 1981 to the mysterious new disease that primarily affected gay men, reflecting the stigma that still persists for the LGBTQ community.

At 6:00 pm, in Manhattan, there will be a candlelight vigil which begins at the NYC AIDS Memorial consisting of a few guest speakers and the lighting of candles. Then at 6:30 pm, the participants walk east on Greenwich Avenue and make a right on to Christopher Street and head to the gathering at St. John’s Lutheran Church that will feature guest speakers, singers, and performers, starting at 7:00 pm.

After the gathering ends at 8:30 pm, there will be a reception with light refreshments.

Drexel Medicine’s Partnership Comprehensive Care Practice will be tabling at Leon H. Sullivan Charitable Trust, 1415 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19122 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and The Spot, 4811 Germantown Ave from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., providing HIV testing and counseling, free HIV home test kits, HIV prevention information, free condoms and more!

Drexel HOPE will also be tabling at the corner of 24 Street and Snyder Ave from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in honor of World AIDS Day 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense damage to our world but one of its positive impacts is a significant drop in HIV testing and prevention. Between 2019 and 2020, 11% fewer people accessed HIV services and testing declined by 22%.

Today, more people living with HIV than ever before have access to life-saving treatment with HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), which is good for their health.

When people with HIV take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, they can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.

In addition, people who are HIV-negative and who are at risk for HIV infection can take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV medicine used to prevent HIV.

Yet, unfortunately, in 2020 , an estimated 30,403 new HIV infections occurred in the United States, and approximately 1.5 million people newly acquired HIV worldwide.

To control and ultimately end HIV globally, we need a powerful array of HIV prevention tools that are widely accessible to all who would benefit from them.

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