HIV/AIDS, the legacy and the fight

1987 Spirit of Stonewall Rally

In the 80’s, I remember some of the very first bullying that came my way was kids at recess calling me gay and telling me that I was going to “get AIDS, die, and burn in hell for all eternity.” Many of us know all too well what this shame, fear, and stigma feels like. It’s something we all work to combat to this day. Globally, it is estimated that there are currently 36.7 million people living with HIV, and that more than 35 million people have died from HIV/AIDS related complications. This is why every December 1st, on World AIDS Day, we focus ourselves on the work that yet lies ahead of us, and take for ourselves intentional time to mourn and honor those we’ve lost along the way to the virus.

In the months leading up to Pride every year, we contribute hundreds of Festival tickets to direct service providers such as UCSD’s AVRC and The Center to incentivize HIV testing for free tickets. At the festival itself we typically have at least 3 mobile testing units on site where hundreds of people are tested over the two-day event; those who test positive are then given access to immediate services and care. Whether it’s our direct trainings done throughout the year, partnering on public education programs, safer sex education and free HIV-testing for our LGBTQ youth, or awarding community grant funding for HIV/AIDS related services, treatment, and prevention San Diego Pride is committed to ending new transmissions, supporting those living with the virus, and fighting the fear, shame, stigma far too many associate with the virus.

Time and community resolve have given us new tools to fight and prevent HIV infections, understand that undetectable means untransmittable, and turn the virus from a death sentence into a chronic illness. The goal to get to zero new infections and ending stigma is a social, political, and economic battle, but one that we can win if we work together. This December 1st, let’s join together to remember and honor the legacy of those lost to HIV by recommitting ourselves to this work, and together, Persist with Pride.

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About Alex Villafuerte

Alex Villafuerte is San Diego Pride's Marketing & Communication Manager. He oversees the marketing for all of Pride's events & programs. Outside of Pride, he has a love for the outdoors, the San Diego brew scene, and naps.