LOS ANGELES (CNS) - World AIDS Day will be marked today in Los Angeles by a free concert at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, a memorial ceremony in Lincoln Heights and the pylons at Los Angeles International Airport turning red.
Grammy winners Faith Evans and Daya are scheduled to perform at the 7:30 p.m. concert, along with Miss Shalae, who impersonates the pop and rhythm and blues singer Beyonce. The concert will be hosted by the Emmy-, Grammy- and Tony-winning entertainer Billy Porter.
The concert will be preceded by a gala dinner and awards ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of Impluse United, a volunteer group of active gay men which promotes healthier lifestyles by creating campaigns, events and online content
The 26th annual Noche de Las Memorias will begin at 5 p.m. at the Las Memorias AIDS Monument in Lincoln Park, honoring loved ones who died from AIDS.
The ceremony will include speeches by leaders of the effort who overcame opposition to build the memorial and families and friends impacted by the AIDS epidemic and live musical performances.
Lights will turn red across Los Angeles County to commemorate the 31st annual World AIDS Day, including at Los Angeles City Hall. Red is the color of AIDS awareness.
“These lights are seen by millions of people across Los Angeles every night and we hope their shining red will remind those millions of the over 31,000 Los Angelenos we have lost to AIDS and the over 61,000 of our friends and neighbors currently living with HIV/AIDS,” said Craig E. Thompson, CEO of APLA Health, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center serving more than 18,000 people annually.
“Los Angeles County has the second largest HIV epidemic in the country and we must continue to educate everyone on how to prevent new infections. With broad access to healthcare, tools like PrEP and PEP, the science of Undetectable = Untransmittable, and the passion of countless advocates we can stop HIV in its track.”
PrEP are antiviral drugs to prevent HIV/AIDS. PEP is the acronym for post-exposure prophylaxis, taking antiretroviral medicines after being potentially exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS to prevent becoming infected.
Undetectable = Untransmittable is the concept in which people with HIV who have an undetectable amount of HIV in their blood thanks to taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.
The UCLA Sex Squad will perform new hip-hop dances by choreographer and director Jackie Lopez at 3:30 p.m. at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The group uses humor, theater and storytelling to encourage conversations on taboo topics surrounding sex.
The museum will present storytelling performances by the Los Angeles Through Positive Eyes Collective, a group of seven HIV-positive Angelenos, at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.; a dance program of stories and experiences from the HIV epidemic by The Catharsis Project at 4:30 p.m., and a screening of the 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague” at 1 p.m.
The performances and screening are being held in connection with the exhibition, “Through Positive Eyes,” photography, video, and live storytelling produced by people living with HIV and AIDS, offering intimate access to everyday and extraordinary life moments from their perspectives.
There will be a 4 p.m. book signing of “Through Positive Eyes” by exhibition curator David Gere. The book features photography and stories by 130 HIV-positive arts activists from 10 cities around the world, including Los Angeles.
A record 37.9 million people worldwide were living with HIV in 2018, according to UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, whose figures date back to 2000. The previous record was 36.9 million in 2017.
There were around 1.7 million new HIV infections diagnosed in 2018, compared to 1.8 million in 2017 and 2.9 million at the epidemic's peak in 1997.
A record 23.3 million people with HIV were accessing antiretrovial therapy in 2018, topping the previous record of 21.7 million in 2017 and 7.7 million in 2010.
World AIDS Day was founded in 1988, the first international day for global health. This year's theme is “Communities Make the Difference,” recognizing the essential role communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.
Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counselors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.
In his World AIDS Day proclamation, President Donald Trump declared, “Our nation unites on World AIDS Day to show support for people living with” HIV and AIDS. “We also pause to solemnly remember those worldwide who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS-related illnesses.
“As we mourn this tragic loss of life, we acknowledge the remarkable advancements in medical care, treatment, acceptance, and understanding surrounding the virus. While admirable progress has been made, it is not enough, and we must continue to work toward a vaccine and a cure.
“On World AIDS Day, we are reminded that no challenge can defeat the unyielding American spirit. As a nation, we must come together to remove the stigma surrounding HIV and to address disparities facing people living with this disease.
“Our success is contingent upon collaboration across all levels of government here in the United States and around the world, community interaction and outreach to people with HIV and at-risk populations and a citizenry motivated by compassion for the suffering of humankind and hope for the future.
“Together, we will continue to make progress in our efforts to find a cure for HIV/AIDS and to ensure that all Americans live healthier and happier lives.”
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