Hundreds of individuals gathered on December 1 at the Golden Gate Park National AIDS Memorial Grove to observe the 19th annual World AIDS Day, to share stories, and to remember. According to Dominick Albano, 49, of San Francisco, “It’s very important for those who’ve lived through the darkest days to share these stories so they’re not repeated.”
The event honored activists such as Representative Nancy Pelosi, who was recognized for 25 years of AIDS advocacy as a San Francisco member of Congress, as well as activists and young people who continue to campaign for AIDS education and awareness. Some came to honor those who have been lost. San Franciscan David Howe, 73, said “I held three of my best friends in my arms as they died from AIDS. I’m coming for the wonderful people and the energy that was lost. They died in their 20s.”
While there are 2 million new cases a year globally, with 50,000 of those occurring in the United States, according to Dr. Diane Havlir, a professor at University of California, San Francisco and chief of the HIV/AIDS division at San Francisco General Hospital, there is hope. New infections are down 50 percent annually over the past decade, and by 2015, medical care is on track to nearly eliminate mother-to-child infections. Challenges still exist, however. Havlir added that gay African American men are eight times more likely to be infected with HIV than any other population group, and HIV/AIDs is still a stigmatized disease in many areas of the country.
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