NEW YORK — Friday marked the 35th annual World AIDS Day, when every Dec. 1 people gather to remember those who have died of and been impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Many events were held this year to raise awareness and fight the stigma.
Over the course of eight hours at the New York City AIDS Memorial in the West Village, people simultaneously read the names of New Yorkers who died of the disease.
“We cannot end the AIDS epidemic without expanding testing,” one speaker said.
“So that everyone, every resident of New York City and New York State is aware of their HIV status,” said another.
In Far Rockaway, a World AIDS Marathon, Half, 10K and 5K was held.
“This is a personal thing to me. I have HIV,” a runner said. “If more people get involved, more people have information, more people can stay safe.”
The race proceeds benefit several local hospitals and the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation.
Brodsky, a brain cancer survivor, was diagnosed with HIV in 1997. His foundation raises money to benefit those living with HIV/AIDS and brain cancer patients, as well as to find a cure or vaccine.
“There are the types of people that inspire me to continue running. I’m only 31. They’re well in their 70s,” another runner said.
At NYC Health + Hospitals’ Jacobi campus in the Bronx, people wore red to show their support and various tables were set up with health information.
Free HIV testing was also available.
Dr. Jason Leider, director of HIV services at Jacobi, said World AIDS Day is about recognizing patients, staff and how communities can take a leadership role to end the epidemic.
“We have about 2,000 people that we take care of with HIV here. Some have been with us for 30 years, and some been with us just recently infected. So it’s a wide age range. We have teenagers who are positive. That’s a shame because we can do things to prevent them being infected,” said Leider.
Leider highlighted medications like PrEP and urged people who need HIV treatment to come in, since people diagnosed are now living longer and healthier lives.
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