Employees gather to sign a World AIDS Day poster with personal messages of hope.
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach held its second annual World AIDS Day celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Currently more than 36 million people in the world live with HIV. Of the 1.2 million HIV-positive Americans, 1 in 8 (12.8%) are unaware of their infection. The event welcomed patients, employees and community members to educate and unite in the fight against HIV by raising awareness, encouraging testing and helping to dismantle the stigmas often associated with HIV/AIDS.
The celebration was sponsored by the Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center at Miller Children’s, which cares for infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women who are at risk for, or infected with, a variety of disorders, including HIV/AIDS. Audra Deveikis, M.D., medical director, Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center, Miller Children’s, was one of the key speakers at the event and discussed the history and treatment progress of HIV/AIDS.
Amongst the speakers was Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center patient, Kennedy Kiboro. Kiboro, who has only recently gone public about his HIV-positive status, openly discussed his decade-long journey living with HIV and the stigmas attached to it.
In addition to guest speakers, the World AIDS Day celebration featured a pediatric patient art exhibit which displayed a variety of art pieces created by Bickerstaff Center patients including etching on metal, prints from glass, oil, acrylic and more. The Long Beach Health Department donated an HIV-testing van to offer free rapid HIV screenings during the event. HIV testing can help to ensure treatment for people in need and help promote the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Though labeled a celebration, the event also promoted hope for better treatment options and, hopefully, a cure. Participants signed posters of a giant red ribbon with their own personal messages of hope for the cause and those suffering with HIV/AIDS.
“I hope this event brings awareness that this disease is still incredibly prevalent,” said Deveikis. “There is still work to be done to help ensure an HIV-free generation.”