Hundreds of Central Ohioans will participate in World AIDS Day events on December 1. World AIDS Day, started in 1988, provides an opportunity for the community to raise funds, increase awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, fight prejudice, and improve HIV education. The Central Ohio HIV Planning Alliance (COHPA) and its member agencies have two events planned for this year’s World AIDS Day: a World AIDS Day art show at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Child Advocacy Center and the annual candlelight vigil opened by Mayor Michael Coleman and Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long at Columbus Public Health.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) states that there are currently 3,375individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Franklin County and that in 2009, there were 269 new HIV diagnoses in the county. According ODH, Franklin County still has the highest rate of new HIV diagnosis in the state. Clearly, there is still a substantial amount of work to be done in fighting the epidemic. This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ”Getting to Zero,” according to the World AIDS Campaign. To break it down further this means, zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS related deaths.
On Thursday, December 1, 2011 Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long will commemorate World AIDS Day by leading the community in the annual Candlelight Vigil on the front steps of Columbus Public Health. The building will be lit (RED). This year’s event begins at 7:00pm in the auditorium of the Columbus Public Health building at 240 Parsons Ave, following a procession from Livingston Park near Nationwide Children’s Hospital at 6pm The general public and media are welcome. During the vigil, names of those lost to HIV/AIDS will be read.
About the Central Ohio HIV Planning Alliance:
The Central Ohio HIV Planning Alliance was established to identify the needs of Central Ohioans affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS and to help reduce the spread of HIV infection. Through collaborative means, COHPA strives to assure the integration of effective, accessible HIV prevention, medical case management, and housing services, and to provide community planning and partnerships for the implementation of the Ryan White Program, the Central Ohio Case Management Network, the Federal HIV Prevention Program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.