ST. LOUIS – On the 34th annual World AIDS Day, people across St. Louis honored those living with HIV by educating others and spreading awareness.
For many, World AIDS Day is a time for reflection, education and empowerment, especially for those who have lost their battle.
“They could dance with someone at the club on Friday and bury their coffin this Wednesday or Friday,” said Jordan Braxton, prevention director at Vivent Health.
Those who not only live with the disease but thrive have come a long way.
“I honestly couldn’t have imagined 25 years ago that I would be here 25 years later,” said Lawrence Hudson-Lewis, director of prevention for Washington University’s Project Ark.
As part of a day of action to fight AIDS, several events were held Thursday across St. Louis, including a short film at the Museum of Contemporary Art about the struggles many have faced.
“It’s not a deal yet. Until there is a cure, we won’t be done with it,” Hudson-Lewis said. “So we have more stories unfolding, different narratives that need to be told because there are different people there.”
Nearby, art was once again being used as a link and catalyst for conversation.
“It’s definitely an icebreaker,” said Vanessa Frost, a visitor to the art show. “It’s very important to give back to the community and to see young black artists at work, it’s just great to see them.”
“Knowledge is power, the more you give them, the more they’ll sit and they’ll respect it,” said Willie Strayhorn, a visitor to the art show.
According to the latest 2020 data from the City of St. Louis website, 3,422 people in the city and 2,552 in the county have AIDS.
That’s why experts say testing is so important.
“Within six months of receiving your diagnosis and starting your medication, you can be undetectable,” Braxton said. “It’s all about education.”
Although people with the disease have faced stigma and discrimination, advances in medicine and shifts in public opinion have led to major breakthroughs.
“Knowing your status is sexy,” Braxton said. “Just remove the stigma, be brave, be knowledgeable, educate yourself, learn STD symptoms, learn STD symptoms, just be educated.”
Even when it’s not World AIDS Day, the city gives everyone free home testing kits to check for HIV. The kits can be ordered from the community at www.takemehome.org.
City officials said more than 1,080 home testing kits have been distributed since it was added in 2021.
https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/knowledge-is-power-st-louis-honors-34th-world-aids-day-with-education-and-empowerment/ “Knowledge is Power” St. Louis honors the 34th World AIDS Day with education and empowerment