Richmond Celebrates World AIDS Day Tomorrow at MCC
World AIDS day, December 1st, began in 1988 on and was the brainchild of James Bunn, who was working on the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS, and Bunn’s peer, Thomas Netter.
“The stigma that surrounded AIDS was actually twofold. One of it was what you could easily argue had to do with homophobia. But also there was a stigma of fear. There was a lot that people felt they did not know about the epidemic and they were afraid. And they were right to be afraid because of the things that they were hearing,” Bunn said in a 2011 interview with NPR.
Now, 25 years later, and we are still trying to keep the conversation alive. Much has changed since 1988, but there is still work that needs to be done, says Jim Burns, who has organized a 25th anniversary of World AIDS day event here in Richmond.
“We need to bring AIDS Back to the community consciousness,” Burns said. “Because of the medication, that is [available] people think that [AIDS] is over and not as serious of a problem as it used to be. There are still people dying from AIDS and there are still people being affected by AIDS.”
The first step in the process of bringing AIDs back into the public eye is the 25th anniversary event being held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond.
The service will be held on December, 1st from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
“While it is a commemoration of the struggles and the loses that have occurred,” Burns said. “We also want to rejoice in how far the disease has come and celebrate those people who are still living with the disease and the positive lives that they have.”
The speakers at the service will include Dr. Bob Hutchins from the MCV clinic talking about the history of AIDS and how far the disease and treatment have come, and Jim Burns will be talking on community action.
Burns’ ultimate goal is to form a World AIDS Day Coalition. The job of the Coalition would be to start planning for next years event in January and to keep the community aware of the disease year round.
“AIDS has affected Richmond in a very significant way, especially the African-American community,” Burns said.
The Coalition will plan quarterly events surrounding AIDs. He says it is important to educate the children in the community about the disease and prevention.
This years service will allow time for those individuals who have struggled with AIDS to come forward and tell their story: about their struggles, and about how they survive.
And of course, there will be time for remembrance. Memories of loved ones are more than welcome to be shared.
Come down to the Richmond MCC – the corner of Park and Davis in The Fan – tomorrow, Dec. 1st from 5:30-6:50, to join in the 25th Anniversary of World AIDS day with the rest of the community.
I am originally from a small town in North Carolina and have recently moved to Richmond. Meaning I am a novice to the ways of Richmond life, but from what I have seen it is a culturally rich environment that I look forward to diving into. My daily hustle consists of playing bass, reading, and hunting for new music. This summer I will be interning with RVA Magazine and GayRVA.com. In the fall I will be transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University where I will major in journalism.
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