World AIDS Day, which is recognized across the globe as a means of raising awareness of the disease and its continued impact, will be observed in Los Angeles Wednesday with a free concert at The Forum organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and a ceremony at The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument in Lincoln Park.
The Wall Las Memorias AIDS Monument was created in 2004 and over the years has received the etches of more than 360 names of people who died from AIDS complications. For World AIDS Day, the monument's expanded footprint and new artwork will be unveiled, with the additional names of more than 1,000 people lost to HIV.
TWLM Founder Richard Zaldivar, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo and County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis are expected to attend the ceremony, and organizers said they hoped Mayor Eric Garcetti would also attend. The mayor's office on Tuesday afternoon said it was still finalizing his schedule.
The 6:15 p.m. ceremony, at 3600 N. Mission Road, will also include performances by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and Juan Pablo di Pace.
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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation's sold-out concert at 8 p.m. will be hosted by comedian Randy Rainbow and will feature Oscar and multi-Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson and multi-Grammy winner Christina Aguilera. The event will also honor Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, with AHF's Lifetime Achievement Award. The award will be accepted by his wife Jane Sanders.
World AIDS Day was founded in 1988, the first international day for global health. It is observed around the world each Dec. 1 to raise awareness about AIDS and honor the people who have died of the disease.
The theme this year is "End inequities. End AIDS and End Pandemics."
"Without bold action against inequalities, the world risks missing the targets to end AIDS by 2030, as well as a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a spiraling social and economic crisis," the Joint United Nations Programme On HIV and AIDS said on its website.
UNAIDS launched a report ahead of World AIDS Day warning that the world could face 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths over the next decade if world leaders don't address inequalities around the world. The organization added that the COVID-19 pandemic undercut efforts to combat AIDS in some areas of the world, as HIV testing declined and fewer people initiated treatment in 2020 in 40 of the 50 countries that report to UNAIDS.
"It is still possible to end the epidemic by 2030,'' said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his World AIDS Day message. "But that will require stepped up action and greater solidarity. To beat AIDS -- and build resilience against the pandemics of tomorrow -- we need collective action."
This year's World AIDS Day comes amid two significant anniversaries: the 40th anniversary of the first recognition of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of the virus that led to AIDS in June 1981 and the establishment of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation 35 years ago.
During the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's free concert at the Forum, it will also acknowledge the progress made in combating HIV/AIDS, which has killed 33 million people since the first cases were reported four decades ago.
According to AHF, more than 38 million people around the world are believed to be living with HIV today.