FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Each year on Dec. 1, people across the world unite for the same cause: to fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
World AIDS Day takes place on December 1 each year. The day was founded in 1988 and was the first ever global health day.
Four decades of the fight against AIDS
Kandace Kelly knows from first-hand experience how far the world and Northeast Indiana has come in the treatment of HIV and the stigma surrounding the virus.
In the 90’s, Kelly accepted a volunteer coordinator position with what was then known as the AIDS Task Force. The agency is now the Positive Resource Connection, located on 525 Oxford Street, where Kelly currently works as the Director of Outreach Services.
Kelly said when she first joined she had no HIV or AIDS background. Now, she can look back and remember how the virus impacted so many people in Northeast Indiana.
“Our agency was founded back in 1985 by a woman who had a brother who was living in Chicago and was dying of an AIDS related death,” Kelly said. “When I started in the 90’s, people were coming in infected. Not getting tested, not finding out until they were in the hospital and within a matter of a week to two weeks they died because at the time there wasn’t a lot of medications.”
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment that have prolonged lives and, for many, have made the virus undetectable.
However, there are still 1.1 million people in the United States and 38 million worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS.
Kelly said right now the agency serves around 440 clients.
Positive Resource Connection offers free HIV testing. To learn more about their services click here.
White House observes World Aids Day
A red ribbon can be seen hanging from the north portico of the White House to commemorate World Aids Day Sunday.
President Trump issued a proclamation to mark the solemn occasion. In his proclamation, Trump touted his initiative, called Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America.
The president’s goal is to eliminate at least ninety percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. within ten years.
The proclamation says that will be made possible by focusing on diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and response.