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Health Report: Online events raise awareness for World AIDS Day

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:07 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -Every year December 1st marks World AIDS Day. This event sponsored by the National AIDS Trust is designed to raise awareness and to show support for people living with HIV, as well as commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

Jeff Neilson, Client Service Director at Interior AIDS Association says that with the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s observance is especially important. “The progress that’s been made in HIV care and treatment, it’s not a death sentence. People go on to live long healthy lives. It’s very different than what people thought of HIV in the 80s and early 90s. People don’t think about HIV as much right now because of COVID. Those living with it are still subjected to a lot of stigmas, and a lot of negativity affecting everything from employment to housing,” said Neilson

The goal of World AIDS Day is to remind the public and government that HIV is still a present health concern. There is still a need to raise funds, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

“The pandemic has been very challenging for those living with HIV because of the risk of infection and the compromised immune systems those individuals have,” said Neilson

A day to commemorate and remember the victims of this virus, World AIDS Day is commonly host to many events, though this year many are happening digitally. Neilson elaborated by saying, “There’s the world AIDS quilt that was originally scheduled to be here in Fairbanks but due to the pandemic it was canceled. There are multiple sections that are Alaska themed and represent those who have passed away who are Alaskans.”

The World AIDS Quilt and other features and educational material can be found here.

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