To raise awareness this World AIDS Day, many local organizations are teaming up to eliminate the stigmas surrounding AIDS and encourage more people to get tested. The HIV incident rate in Salt Lake County is 10.8 per 100,000 people and has only increased since 2010. Making matters worse, only about 22% of the Utah population has been tested for HIV. In order to raise the public’s consciousness of the issue, a number of film screenings, HIV testing and counseling, a stigma awareness rally and more will all take place on December 1.
“World AIDS Day is a time to come together as a community to encourage people to get tested for HIV, share resources for prevention and support those who are HIV positive. We encourage all Utah residents to engage with us at our seminars, stick-it-to-stigma rally, reception or film screenings or simply show your support by wearing a red ribbon,” said Stan Penfold, Executive Director of the Utah AIDS Foundation. “While we have so much to celebrate and have made great strides on the research front, we still need to be vigilant against discrimination and harmful stigmas that ostracize people with HIV and AIDS.”
The Utah Film Center will host three free screenings for the community on December 1 as a continuation of their Damn These Heels LGBT Film Festival. The films aim to break down barriers and build strong communities, acting as an artistic tool for social reform. Presented at The City Library, the selected films include RENT: A Singalong, Blood Brother and Remembering the Man.
The World AIDS Day events are made possible through the collaboration and support of local organizations in order to advocate for health, while eliminating financial barriers to some high risk groups. The following events will be hosted by the Utah AIDS Foundation on December 1:
- HIV Testing & Counseling – at the City Library, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Education Series – HIV cure research and PrEP HIV prevention – at City Library, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Be PrEPAred: What is HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is it right for me? – Led by Benjamin Holdaway, HIV Prevention Lead for the Utah AIDS Foundation
- Beyond ART: Strategies to Cure HIV – Led by Dr. Adan Spivak from the University of Utah Infectious Disease Clinic
- Read My Lips: Kiss In and Stick it to Stigma Rally – starting at City Creek ending at City Library, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Film Festival – Presented by Utah Film Center at City Library
- RENT: A Sing Along by Chris Columbus from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Blood Brother by Steve Hoover from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Remembrance Program and Utah Film Center Feature of Remembering the Man by Nickolas Bir and Eleanor Sharpe from 8: 00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
- RED Party at Bodega from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Utah AIDS Foundation is a local organization with the mission to provide a safe community for those struggling with the complex issues surrounding HIV. Their work is not only focused on the health of community members, but also in providing the compassion and support they need.
For more information on World AIDS Day, click here.