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World AIDS Day Events Remind Us: 'The Time to Act Is Now'

World AIDS Day

Tuesday is World AIDS Day, a day to remember those lost to the disease and call attention to the fact that the epidemic is not over, with an estimated 36.9 million people living with HIV or AIDS worldwide.

A variety of events are planned, beginning today and throughout the week, to observe World AIDS Day, which was established in 1988. This year’s theme is “The Time to Act Is Now,” a call to implement the latest HIV prevention strategies.

The White House will hold an event from 1 to 3:15 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday, highlighting President Obama’s commitment to the sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations and the recently released National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020. You can live-stream the event here and join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WAD2015. Find more information here.

In a World AIDS Day proclamation, Obama noted the progress made against the disease since the first observance in 1988 but stressed that much remains to be done. His strategy update focuses on “expanding HIV testing and care, widening support for those living with HIV to stay in comprehensive care, promoting universal viral suppression among individuals infected with HIV, and increasing access to preventive measures, including pre-exposure prophylaxis for people at substantial risk of acquiring HIV,” he said.

“Additionally, the primary aims of the strategy include reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities, because HIV still affects specific populations disproportionately across our country,” the president continued. “Certain individuals — including gay and bisexual men, black women and men, Latinos and Latinas, people who inject drugs, transgender women, young people, and people in the Southern United States — are at greater risk for HIV, and we must target our efforts to reduce HIV-related health disparities and focus increased attention on highly vulnerable populations.” He also emphasized the need to fight HIV and AIDS in other nations. 

U2 front man Bono will mark World AIDS Day by launching an all-star campaign featuring a chance to win “once-in-a-lifetime experiences” by donating at least $10 to his AIDS-fighting organization (RED). These include a meeting with George Clooney, a portrait painted by James Franco, a University of Texas football game in the company of Matthew McConaughey, a visit to the Game of Thrones set, and much more, the Associated Press reports. Tuesday’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! will be devoted to the campaign and will kick off a month-long shopathon in a partnership between (RED) and Vice Media. Viewers will have a chance to win a football-passing lesson from Tom Brady, a holiday-card photo with Shaquille O’Neal, and other celebrity-related items and experiences. (RED) itself will observe its 10th anniversary at a gala in New York City Tuesday night.

The AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park will host events tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are still available for tonight’s Light in the Grove fundraising gala, to be held from 6 to 9. The event will include dinner, performances, and an interactive storytelling booth where attendees can share tales about HIV and AIDS that will be archived for a digital media AIDS quilt. The grove will then hold its World AIDS Day National Observance from noon to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, with presentation of awards to Levi Strauss chairman emeritus Robert D. Haas and the San Francisco leather community, and Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarships to six college students who plan to pursue careers addressing the epidemic. More info here.

In Los Angeles and its environs, events include Empowe(red), an educational forum and health fair from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the L.A. Central Library, and, in West Hollywood, a candlelight procession from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by the Paul Starke Warrior Awards presentation, honoring people providing HIV or substance abuse services, at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the West Hollywood Public Library. There will also be a public viewing of AIDSWatch, an electronic piece of art memorializing those lost to the disease, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the council chambers. And panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed at West Hollywood City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Friday. More information on all the events is here.

The University of Massachusetts at Boston will display sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, an exhibit cosponsored by various university departments, Boston Pride, and Bay State Stonewall Democrats. The panels can be viewed from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. today through Friday at the Campus Center’s second-floor terrace. There will also be a free community reception in the same location from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, featuring AIDS Action Committee executive director Carl Sciortino. Find out more here.

In New York City, one of the many events set for Tuesday is From Vision to Reality, to be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater, a free community event honoring those lost to AIDS and highlighting city and state plans to end AIDS. Reservations are recommended; RSVP online here. Then in the evening there will be a candlelight vigil, procession, and program on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; all the info is here. And find a list of events throughout New York State here.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago will raise funds in a sweet fashion with A World of Chocolate, Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Union Station. Sample gourmet treats from more than chocolatiers, enjoy drinks and dancing, and buy raffle tickets to win vacations and other prizes, all benefiting the foundation’s important work. Get all the details here.

Saturday in Atlanta, the voices of young people will be highlighted at Getting to Zero, a teen-led dialogue and dance performance about HIV and AIDS. It happens from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the New Schools at Carver School of the Arts. Admission is free; RSVP here.

This is only a small selection of the many events being held around the nation and world. Feel free to post information about others in the comments section below. To find events near you, check with your local health department or AIDS service organization.

Pictured above:  Nepalese women and children from Maiti Nepal, a rehabilitation center for victims of sex trafficking, light candles Monday, the eve of World Aids Day, in Kathmandu. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

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