Albert Ontiveros was a child during the early years of the AIDS pandemic, but he knows his history and why World AIDS Day is so important.
“A lot of us younger humans, we weren’t there for the beginning and for the worst parts of it, but we’re trying to be here for the end,” said Ontiveros, who will be participating in the AIDS/LifeCycle World AIDS Day Broadcast on December 1 as a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day. It is an occasion to remember and reflect on those lost to AIDS, to support the people living with HIV, to speak out against HIV stigma, and to unite in the fight against HIV.
This is the 40th anniversary year of when the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS were officially reported. More than 700,000 American lives have been lost to HIV since, and more than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV.
The U.S. government has given this year’s observance the theme: Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice.
The AIDS/LifeCycle broadcast will highlight the growing inequalities in gaining access to essential HIV services. It takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. and will include a live candlelight vigil led by The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of Los Angeles, whose Sister Unity is hosting.
The evening will also include remarks from AIDS and LGBT rights activist Cleve Jones, and performances by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
“It’s a really good time for everyone in our community and outside of our community to pause and acknowledge that there has been an epidemic going on since the 1980s and people have continued to be infected and die,” said Ontiveros, AIDS/LifeCycle senior recruitment coordinator.
“It’s a time to not only remember those we have lost, but also to celebrate how far we have come,” he added. “We have made some tremendous strides as a community, the way we have all learned to work together.”
Also on the broadcast will be short videos submitted by members of the community, sharing who they are dedicating the evening or their participation in AIDS/LifeCycle to.
In addition, there will be a spotlight on the work of the Trans Wellness Center (TWC) which has brought together services and resources for transgender and gender non-conforming people under one roof in 2018. Anyone who is registered as a TWC client receives free, rapid, and confidential HIV testing with results coming back within 5-10 minutes.
The community-based effort is a partnership between six local organizations with the Los Angeles LGBT Center being the lead agency coordinating management and operations.
RSVP to watch the AIDS/LifeCycle World AIDS Day Broadcast at aidslifecycle.org
AIDS/LifeCycle takes place June 5–11, 2022 and benefits the HIV and AIDS-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Register now at aidslifecycle.org