The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center observed World AIDS Day of Remembrance on Thursday, December 1, in Kingston. It is a day of solidarity for people around the world who are affected by HIV, and it is a day for voices to unite by sharing experiences, remembering those lost and standing together in the fight against HIV. While great strides have been made over the four decades since the first known reported cases of AIDS, this disease remains a public health challenge. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for every community and each individual to unite in the fight against HIV to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate the more than 32 million people worldwide who have died from AIDS-related illness.
The program included keynote speaker Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler, president of SUNY New Paltz, with thoughts on HIV/AIDS history and significance, storytelling on loss and remembrance by members of the Men’s Group, treatment and prevention updates by Donna Ricard of Hudson Valley Community Services and songs by the Key of Q, followed by a candlelight walk and service at the Old Dutch Church and reception back at the Center.
The Center is hosting a section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is the largest ongoing community folk arts project in the world and celebrates the lives of people who have died of AIDS. First created in 1987, the quilt now consists of more than 50,000 three-foot x six-foot panels that have been individually sewn together into 6,000 12-foot x 12-foot block sections. In its entirety, the quilt weighs more than 54 tons and encompasses 1.5 million square feet of fabric.