Long Beach observes World AIDS Day Tuesday with a virtual memorial and walk, organized by the Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group.
This is just one part of the Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group’s weeklong awareness efforts for HIV/AIDs. In previous years, Long Beach observed the global health day with a luncheon at St. Mary Medical Center and a candlelit walk.
While the luncheon will not be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, community members are welcomed to follow the designated path for the walk, marked by red ribbons, a symbol for HIV/AIDS awareness and solidarity, at any point while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. The walk starts at Harvey Milk Plaza and ends at the Lions Lighthouse.
The Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group works to provide a comprehensive prevention and care plan for those afflicted with HIV in Long Beach.
As part of World AIDS Day, The Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach Airport sign and the Rainbow Esplanade and more will light up red on Dec. 1.
“Lighting up city sites in red serve to honor and recognize World AIDS Day in Long Beach, to honor those individuals that have died of AIDS, and to inspire Long Beach residents to take action by joining the Long Beach HPG and HIV/STD reduction efforts,” Everardo Alvizo, planning group co-chair, said in an email.
The Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group is also holding a virtual message board online, where people can leave posts sharing messages of solidarity or remembering loved ones that have died due to the disease. People can also view messages from Long Beach community members including Mayor Robert Garcia and Anissa Davis, health officer for the city of Long Beach.
Since 1988, World AIDS Day serves to call attention to HIV/AIDS, remember those who have died from it and show support for the community.
The STD/HIV Surveillance Program’s 2018 annual report for Long Beach, the most recent report available, found that as of December 2018, there are 4,319 people with HIV living in Long Beach.
In a report from the Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group in 2019, Long Beach’s rate of infections for HIV was higher than Los Angeles County and California.
Micahel Buitrón, community co-chair of the planning group, said in an email that nonprofit organizations including AIDS Project Los Angeles and AIDS Healthcare Foundation to the LGBTQ Center Long Beach have provided testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS for years.
“This year’s World AIDS Day is an opportunity for the larger community to see the good work that’s being done, as well as a chance to remember those we have lost,” Buitrón said.