LOS ANGELES – In commemoration of World AIDS Day 2023, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger held a breakfast event themed “Remember and Commit,” serving as a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma and sending a message toward working to find a cure for AIDS and end it as a public health threat.
“We all play a part in ending HIV, not just on World AIDS Day, but every day,” Barger said in a statement. “Knowing your HIV status, getting tested, and talking about HIV are important steps we can all take to reduce HIV- related stigma.”
The event was a collaborative effort between Barger’s office, the L.A. County Commission on HIV, VIA Care, City of Pasadena Public Health Department, APLA Health, AMAAD Institute and other organizations. Paul Edmonds, one of only five people in the world to achieve full remission of AIDS, shared his story.
Edmonds was diagnosed in 1988 with AIDS, and lived for more than 30 years with the disease, taking different therapies to control the virus, according to a report from the City of Hope, where he had been receiving treatment. In July 2022, the City of Hope announced Edmonds had gone into remission for acute myeloid leukemia and AIDS as a result of a transplant using stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic condition. This condition gives a “resistance” to AIDS.
“A big reason I want to tell my story is to bring some hope for people with HIV,” Edmonds, 67, of Desert Hot Springs, California, told the City of Hope as part of their “success” story published in April. “And I want to remember all those we lost.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation recognizing World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. He encouraged “all units of government, and the American people” to join the HIV community in activities to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS, and to provide support, dignity and compassion to people with HIV.
“We are within striking distance of eliminating HIV transmission. We have the science. We have the treatments. Most of all, we have each other,” the proclamation reads. “Let us recommit to finishing this fight — together.”
During his first year in office, Biden reestablished the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and launched a National HIV/AIDS Strategy — a roadmap for using community-driven solutions to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. by 2030.
He also requested $850 million from Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative to reduce new HIV cases, fight the stigma that stops many people from getting care, and increase access to pre-exposure prophylaxis — also known as PrEP, a drug that can help prevent the spread of HIV.