A Rain-Swept World AIDS Day
Winter storm dampens crowd at AIDS Memorial, but St. John’s draws full house
The crowd at the NYC AIDS Memorial on December 1 for the annual “Out of the Darkness” candlelight
vigil brave cold, heavy rain.
PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO
The season’s fi rst winter
storm was gearing
up with a chilly heavy
rain on the evening of
December 1, thinning the turnout
for the World AIDS Day “Out of the
Darkness” candlelight vigil at the
NYC AIDS Memorial in the West
Village. Still, dozens — including
American Run for the End of AIDS
(AREA) founder Brent Nicholson
Earle, a prime mover behind the
annual event — gathered in the
triangular park at Seventh Avenue,
Greenwich Avenue, and West
12th Street, opposite the former St.
Vincent’s Hospital, for a reading of
names of those lost to AIDS.
The group next proceeded to
St. John’s Lutheran Church on
Christopher Street for an indoor
commemoration that drew a
much larger crowd for an evening
of speeches, which included the
theme of “family” resilience, and
the reading of more names.
According to UN AIDS , as of the
end of 2018, at least 32 million
people worldwide are estimated to
have died of HIV-related illnesses
since the start of the epidemic
nearly four decades ago, though
the group concedes that the margin
of error on that estimate is in
the millions. Deaths in the US
have exceeded 660,000.
More than 38 million people
worldwide — including approximately
1.2 million in the US — are
living with HIV, while only 25 million
currently have access to antiretroviral
New York and other major urban
areas in the US have had success
in recent years in bringing down
the number of new HIV infections,
with both the city and the state
here reporting record low numbers
for 2018 — based in good measure
on getting HIV-positive people into
treatment and encouraging PrEP
use by those who are negative.
These decreases, however, are falling
short of the targets set out fi ve
years ago for ending the epidemic
in New York in 2020. Public health
experts and activists widely agree
that more work is needed, especially
among gay and bisexual men
in communities of color.
WORLD AIDS DAY
A banner at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street on which attendees wrote their thoughts
on the occasion of World AIDS Day.
Panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt displayed at St. John’s.
An attendee at the St. John’s commemoration
bows her head in thought.
Candles and condoms for attendees at St. John’s.
GayCityNews.com | December 5 - December 18, 2019 21