SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Bay Area residents who want to take time today to commemorate World AIDS Day have several options both in San Francisco and in the South Bay.
Since the AIDS epidemic was first recognized 41 years ago, 675,000 Americans have died.
The human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, has been able to be virally suppressed with medication in many cases since the mid-1990s, though access is sometimes challenging. But as KRON4 previously reported, 72 San Franciscans died in 2020 from HIV-related causes, 2019 saw 70 deaths, 2018 saw 73 and 2017 saw 83.
In San Francisco, where 25,000 people have died of AIDS-related complications, there will be a two-hour event there starting at 11 a.m. at Golden Gate Park’s National AIDS Memorial Grove, the only federally-designated memorial for those who’ve died.
The event will honor Cleve Jones, who founded the AIDS Quilt in the 1980s. Jones, 68, will be receiving a lifetime of commitment award.
The quilt, founded in 1985, is the world’s largest piece of folk art, consisting of 54 tons of stitched fabric panels each to memorialize someone lost to AIDS-related complications.
The event will also feature Tyler TerMeer, the CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and John Cunningham, CEO of the memorial. The press release stated Mayor London Breed has been invited, but not if she will be attending. The event is free and no RSVP is required.
The program will feature three conversations:
- “Reflections with Cleve Jones and 35 years of the Quilt”
- “The State of the Epidemic Today with Leaders on the Frontlines”
- “Young Leaders Making an Impact”
It will be followed by a reading of names and a community lunch.
TerMeer will be among those at another event, at City Hall at 4:30 p.m., commemorating the day. A march and vigil at that time will also feature state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Dr. Monica Gandhi of University of California San Francisco’s Ward 86, and representatives of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, the Positive Women’s Network, the Transgender Gender-Variant & Intersex Justice Project, and Marcha de lxs Putxs.
In the Castro neighborhood, which has been particularly impacted by the epidemic, there will be a sidewalk chalk art event. As part of INSCRIBE, people can write the names of friends and relatives who died AIDS-related complications with lightly-colored chalk on the sidewalks of the neighborhood. At 2 p.m., the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will provide a blessing at the Hibernia Beach (in front of the Bank of America at 18th and Castro streets) and a DJ will be playing disco music “celebrating the lost generation.” There is no cost to participate.
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There’ll also be a special Muni bus between the Castro and the grove. The free shuttle will run every half-hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Castro and Market streets, in front of the former location of Pottery Barn.
In the South Bay, there will be a viewing of a section of the quilt from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall, a flag raising there at 1 p.m. and a candlelit vigil from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.