To mark World AIDS Day, several prominent landmarks around Los Angeles County — including Union Station, City Hall/Grand Park Fountain, Dignity Health Sports Park, LAX Pylons, and the Sixth Street Viaduct — switched their evening architectural lighting to all red to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS, show solidarity in the fight against HIV, and honor those who have died due to HIV disease.
World AIDS Day, observed each year on Dec. 1, provides the opportunity to honor and remember the more than 40 million people worldwide, including over 27,000 Los Angeles County (LAC) residents lost to HIV/AIDS since this epidemic began.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme, “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV,” calls attention to the disproportionate impact of HIV across sub-populations, particularly across race, gender, sexual orientation and geographic lines.
Los Angeles County has an estimated 59,400 people living with HIV and in 2021 there were 1,479 new HIV diagnoses reported, mostly among gay men, African-Americans, Latinos, and transgender persons.
“We thank our partners across the community who have been working for decades to increase awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS and provide services and support for those living with HIV, and honor those in our communities we lost to this terrible disease,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health.
“More than anything, as we honor, on World AIDS Day, those in our communities we lost to this terrible disease, we re-commit ourselves to the work to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which continues to disproportionately impact communities of color and the LGBTQ community,” she said.
Public Health works with others to help bring an end to the epidemic by reducing the number of new annual HIV infections, decreasing the number of undiagnosed people living with HIV, and increasing the viral suppression rates among people who are diagnosed with HIV.
Public Health collaborates with a broad cross-section of diverse community partners to implement community-driven outreach and education, community-based HIV/STD testing, linkage to care, intensive street-based case management, and clinic-based services.
Recently, Public Health has spearheaded programming through many new Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiatives (www.lacounty.hiv), expanded HIV testing access through both community-based partners and the www.takemehome.com testing initiative, ongoing efforts to prevent homelessness among persons living with HIV; enhanced outreach efforts to the transgender community through the TransInLA Instagram and Facebook pages and supporting HIV-positive individuals with accessing lifesaving medication.
Research shows that suppressing HIV to undetectable levels virtually eliminates transmission of the virus to sexual partners.
Public Health encourages people to learn more about HIV, know their HIV status, and, if necessary, access free life-saving HIV medications and services. To learn more about HIV and STDs and locate HIV testing, services, and resources, visit www.getprotectedla.com and http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/dhsp/.