It’s been 40 years since the start of the AIDS epidemic and while the infection and death rates have dropped dramatically over the past decade, hundreds of thousands of people still die from AIDS-related illnesses every year globally.
San Francisco has been at the heart of the fight to end the AIDS epidemic from the very start.
On Saturday, the community remembered the victims and encouraged others to get involved in the fight.
It was a moving tribute to the millions of people who have been killed by AIDS over the past 40 years. Unveiling 1,000 panels from the 50,000 panel aids memorial quilt with voices of hope and memories of loss.
United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Mayor London Breed were some of the speakers at Saturday’s event.
Dignitaries reading victim’s names outload at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. And more expression in the quilt, a 54-ton tapestry that was the brainchild of those touched by the potential deadly virus that causes AIDS, before it even had a name.
“Out of that beginning began a great movement that changed not just the fight against AIDs but the way the world looked at gay people,” said Cleve Jones, the AIDS Memorial Quilt Co-Founder.
AIDS is still a fight that continues. There are still nearly 700,000 AIDS-related deaths worldwide annually more than 13,000 in the U.S. the U.S. is among a number of countries that have signed on with the United Nations to meet a goal of zero AIDS infections and zero deaths by 2030.
“We just haven’t gotten there yet, but we will,” Pelosi said.
Breed is promising the city of San Francisco will meet the goal.
“Zero new infections, zero new deaths, zero stigma attached to those who have HIV or AIDS,” she said.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is also vowing she’ll continue her fight to end the heavy toll on urban areas, where the CDC said people of color are infected at extremely high rates.
“We have seen up close how this disease has impacted our communities, our neighbors and our friends and families,” she said.
Long term survivors are also encouraging others to get tested and trust the current medicines that they say saves lives.
“As a 35-year survivor of AIDS, I am now witnessing what it is like to be a senior citizen,” said Lonnie Payne, AIDS Memorial Board Member.
Source: NBC Bay Area