The public is invited to commemorate World AIDS Day, 8 a.m. Dec. 1, at the front entrance of the Gaston County Health Department, 991 W. Hudson Blvd.
The event, organized by the Health Department’s Gaston HIV Outreach Program (GHOP), will include a brief vigil and remarks from infectious disease specialist and Board of Health member Dr. Jerry Levine, Executive Vice President and Clinical Integration/Chief Medical Officer at CaroMont Health.
“I had the opportunity to begin my involvement with HIV and AIDS in 1980, as I was training in Infectious Diseases in New York City,” shares Dr. Levine. “The next 15 years were the most difficult time imaginable for both my patients and I, as everyone who came into my office died within six to nine months of an opportunistic infection or malignancy. Finally, in the mid-1990's, the first effective therapy became available, the so-called ‘Cocktail’ of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy. Now, another 15 years later, patients in many areas of our country are living relatively normal lives, though they must take medications every day. Yet, worldwide, lack of adequate resources to provide medication and treatment for HIV-infected people leads to continued deaths daily. This year’s theme of Getting to Zero AIDS deaths is very meaningful, but my interpretation would be to get to zero AIDS infections. My daily prayer is that I will see a cure for this disease in my lifetime.”
“I love the global theme of World AIDS Day this year – Getting to Zero,” said Health Director Chris Dobbins. “We’ve made great strides in the last 15 years in HIV treatment and prevention, but ‘Getting to Zero’ serves as a reminder that we can’t rest until this disease is curable, and our infection rates are as low as possible.”
The Gaston County Health Department will also be displaying its quilt honoring those who have been infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. The creation of this quilt began two years ago. Community members are encouraged to wear red clothing to the vigil to commemorate World AIDS Day. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Similar events will be held around the world on December 1. For more information, call Vicky Hunt at 704-853-5280.