By Margaret Shuttleworth
World AIDS Day, which is recognized across the globe as a means of raising awareness of the disease and its continued impact, was observed in Los Angeles Wednesday with a free concert at the Forum organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and a ceremony at The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument in Lincoln Park.
The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument was created in 2004 and over the years has been etched with the names of more than 360 people who died from AIDS complications. For World AIDS Day, the monument’s expanded footprint and new artwork was unveiled, with the additional names of more than 1,000 people lost to HIV.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s sold-out concert at the Forum was hosted by comedian Randy Rainbow and featured Oscar and multi-Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson and multi-Grammy winner Christina Aguilera. The event also honored Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, with AHF’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was accepted by his wife, Jane Sanders.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation acknowledged the progress made in combating HIV/AIDS, which has killed some 33 million people since the first cases were reported four decades ago.
According to AHF, more than 38 million people around the world are believed to be living with HIV Wednesday.
At noon, the Minority AIDS Project commemorated World AIDS Day by releasing 40 doves at 5147 W. Jefferson Blvd.
World AIDS Day was founded in 1988, the first international day for global health. It is observed around the world each Dec. 1 to raise awareness about AIDS and honor the people who have died of the disease.
The theme this year is “End inequities. End AIDS and End Pandemics.”
“Without bold action against inequalities, the world risks missing the targets to end AIDS by 2030, as well as a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a spiraling social and economic crisis,” the Joint United Nations Programme On HIV and AIDS said on its website.
UNAIDS released a report ahead of World AIDS Day warning that the world could face 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths over the next decade if leaders don’t address inequalities. The organization added that the COVID-19 pandemic undercut efforts to combat AIDS in some areas of the world, as HIV testing declined and fewer people initiated treatment in 2020 in 40 of the 50 countries that report to UNAIDS.
“It is still possible to end the epidemic by 2030,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his World AIDS Day message. “But that will require stepped up action and greater solidarity. To beat AIDS — and build resilience against the pandemics of tomorrow — we need collective action.”
This year’s World AIDS Day comes amid two significant anniversaries: the 40th anniversary of the first recognition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of the virus that led to the name AIDS in June 1981 and the establishment of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation 35 years ago.