For those living with or who have lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS, Dec. 1 marks not only an important day of remembrance, but one of hope and connection. World AIDS Day has taken place annually since 1988 to bring communities together and raise awareness of HIV, its treatment and prevention. This year, Pensacola will be one of numerous cities throughout the globe honoring the day, as it has in some way since the early 1990s.
A multi-media program of events is scheduled for World AIDS Day Pensacola, which, for the second year, will be held at the Hancock Pavilion at the Community Maritime Park Stadium. “We are grateful that this year it will be there again,” said Kimberly Brill, outreach coordinator at HIVevolution, the organization that heads the local WAD committee. “It’s such a wonderful meeting place for our community.”
The International World AIDS Day Campaign named “Act Aware” as the theme of World AIDS Day 2013, encouraging people to learn the facts about HIV for more knowledgeable prevention.
The local event will mark the premiere of an “Act Aware” video produced in collaboration with Wil-Lo, an activist who has held HIV-awareness events— most notably Wil-Lo Week—for the past eight years. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation will have a mobile testing unit on site, providing information and conducting free HIV tests, to help increase individual awareness.
“Our vision is two-fold, as a remembrance and a celebration of life,” said Brill of the WAD committee’s approach. The 2013 WAD committee consists of local organizations and individuals, namely HIVevolution, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Wil-Lo, Girl Scout Troup 124, Paul Dye of The Cabaret, Dolph Todd of UWF, and Dr. Gloria Horning of UWF.
“We are honoring those who have gone on before us and what they have contributed to the years of research regarding HIV and AIDS,” Brill stated. “They are the ones who have paved the way for this generation—the medications that we have now and the longevity that people are experiencing living HIV-positive.”
Over 300 people attended WAD Pensacola in 2012, an event Brill remembers as “uplifting” with the combination of the view, the community members, and the organizations that participated. This year’s event involves several speakers as well as performances by Ballet Pensacola, the Belmont Youth Band, and a Pensacola-based community choir.
Local Girl Scouts of Troup 124 created and will present this year’s remembrance quilt during the program. There will also be patches on display from past quilts dedicated to local individuals who have passed.
Guest speakers include Pastor Rodney Jones, Director of Transitions and Outreach for Pathways for Change, and Butch McKay, Executive Director of OASIS, based in Fort Walton Beach. Richard Steinert of Ballet Pensacola choreographed a piece especially for the event, which is free and open to the public.
WORLD AIDS DAY PENSACOLA 2013
WHEN: 3 -5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1
WHERE: Hancock Pavilion, Community Maritime Park Stadium, 301 W. Main St.
DETAILS: 429-7551 or facebook.com/WorldAIDSDayPensacola