By Lupita Franco Peimbert
World AIDS Day is commemorated every December 1. San Francisco is at the forefront of the commemorations as it continues to be a critical player in the fight for resources and equity. In the 1980s, the AIDS pandemic impacted gay men in the city and worldwide.
San Francisco activists and community members, along with Mayor London Breed and California Senator Scott Wiener, gathered this morning at the National Aids Memorial in Golden Gate Park to begin the commemorations.
World AIDS Day is a day of awareness. It is also about mourning the loss of more than 35 million people who have died of HIV or AIDS-related illness, supporting the estimated 38 million people who currently have the virus, and to continue fighting for resources for those living with HIV/AIDS and for new generations to understand and practice prevention.
AIDS is short for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The United States acknowledged its seriousness beginning on June 5, 1981, when the U.S. Center for Disease Control published a report about certain cases in Los Angeles. New York and San Francisco quickly moved to the forefront of research, policy, and awareness on this issue. By 1985, at least 1,000 San Franciscans had died of AIDS.
“We lost friends, neighbors, and family members, almost in front of our eyes,” said Cleve Jones, a long-time, respected activist. He was one of the founders of what is now known as the San Francisco Aids Foundation, helped create the National AIDS Memorial, and conceived the AIDS Quilt.
“The fight is far from over,” said Mayor London Breed. “Black and Brown’s people still face racism, and people who are HIV+ continue facing stigma.”
San Francisco City Hall will be lit up red in recognition of World Aids Day, the Mayor said. A candlelight march and vigil will occur in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities.