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World AIDS Day: December 1, 2010

President Barack Obama has proclaimed today World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder that HIV/AIDS has not gone away.  More than one million Americans currently live with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 become infected each year.  For too long, this epidemic has loomed over our Nation and our world, taking a devastating toll on some of the most vulnerable among us.  On World AIDS Day, we mourn those we have lost and look to the promise of a brighter future and a world without HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Memorial Quilt Display - Photo: The NAMES Project Foundation

In Orange County, the Neighborhood Congregational Churchin Laguna Beach is participating in this global observance of World AIDS Day with a special memorial service, reading of the names, and display of a portion of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. For me, World AIDS Day holds special significance. For more than 8 years I served as a chapter leader for the NAMES Project in Orange County. During that time I helped coordinate numerous displays of sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and accepted hundreds of 3′ by 6′ memorial panels that have been incorporated into this national memorial to persons who have died as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In addition, I am one of the long term survivors of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; I was diagnosed with HIV infection in 1987. During the past 23 years, I have watched good friends pass away while for some unknown reason, I survive. Yes, I have to deal with the constant reminder of HIV disease as I choke down the hand full of pills that came too late for my friends yet keep me alive.  These medications keep the HIV in check, a make it more likely that I will die from heart disease or old age, rather than AIDS. Every morning as I drink my coffee from a NAMES Project coffee mug, I remember the the names of those I have known, loved, and lost.

Below are the details for the event at the Neighborhood Congregational Church and locally from today through December 4th. If you can, please take the time to visit the display and remember those who have been lost to HIV/AIDS.

NCC AIDS MEMORIAL SERVICE
Wednesday Evening, World AIDS Day
7:00 p.m., December 1

An Evening to Remember & Honor our Loved Ones lost to AIDS
Reading of the Names and Worship  Service in Sanctuary
Display of The NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt in Sanctuary
Reception Following in Bridge Hall
Signature Panel Available

Quilts on Display Dec 1-Dec. 4 (Details Below)

Activities Happening All Day Dec. 1 in Laguna Beach…

Wednesday Morning, December 1, 8:30 a.m.

Red Ribbons with Names Will be Placed on Trees Throughout Downtown Laguna Beach
Volunteers Welcome in Area of PCH & Forest Ave
“Let us remember and pray for a cure…”

Wednesday Afternoon, December 1
3:00-5:00

Reading of the Names
On the Cobblestones of Main Beach
Tables and Clinics On Hand

Wednesday Evening, December 1
5:30

Candlelight Vigil at Main Beach
Led by Our Own Rev. B. J. Beu

AIDS Memorial Quilt Display Dates

Six sections, (or blocks), containing forty-eight individual panels from The NAMES Project Foundation/AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in the NCC sanctuary and open for public viewing on the following dates:

Wednesday, December 1, 7 to 9 p.m.
Thursday, December 2, 4 to 7 p.m.
Friday, December 3, 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Please call Julie Phillips at (949) 497-2343 for information about additional dates and times to view the Quilt.

Presidential Proclamation — World AIDS Day

On this World AIDS Day, as we approach the thirtieth year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we reflect on the many Americans and others around the globe lost to this devastating disease, and pledge our support to the 33 million people worldwide who live with HIV/AIDS.  We also recommit to building on the great strides made in fighting HIV, to preventing the spread of the disease, to continuing our efforts to combat stigma and discrimination, and to finding a cure.

Today, we are experiencing a domestic HIV epidemic that demands our attention and leadership.  My Administration has invigorated our response to HIV by releasing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States.  Its vision is an America in which new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, all persons    regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance    will have unfettered access to high quality, life extending care.

Signifying a renewed level of commitment and urgency, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States focuses on comprehensive, evidence based approaches to preventing HIV in high risk communities.  It strengthens efforts to link and retain people living with HIV into care, and lays out new steps to ensure that the United States has the workforce necessary to serve Americans living with HIV.  The Strategy also provides a path for reducing HIV related health disparities by adopting community level approaches to preventing and treating this disease, including addressing HIV related discrimination.

Along with this landmark Strategy, we have also made significant progress with the health reform law I signed this year, the Affordable Care Act.  For far too long, Americans living with HIV and AIDS have endured great difficulties in obtaining adequate health insurance coverage and quality care.  The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from using HIV status and other pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health care coverage to children as of this year, and to all Americans beginning in 2014.  To ensure that individuals living with HIV/AIDS can access the care they need, the Affordable Care Act ends lifetime limits and phases out annual limits on coverage.  Starting in 2014, it forbids insurance companies from charging higher premiums because of HIV status, and introduces tax credits that will make coverage more affordable for all Americans.  This landmark law also provides access to insurance coverage through the Pre Existing Condition Insurance Plan for the uninsured with chronic conditions.

Our Government has a role to play in reducing stigma, which is why my Administration eliminated the entry ban that previously barred individuals living with HIV/AIDS from entering the United States.  As a result, the 2012 International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., the first time this important meeting will be hosted by the United States in over two decades.  For more information about our commitment to fighting this epidemic and the stigma surrounding it, I encourage all Americans to visit:  www.AIDS.gov.

Tackling this disease requires a shared response that builds on the successes achieved to date.  Globally, tens of millions of people have benefited from HIV prevention, treatment, and care programs supported by the American people.  The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria support antiretroviral treatments for millions around the world.  My Administration has also made significant investments and increases in our efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS at home and abroad by implementing a comprehensive package of proven prevention programs and improving the health of those in developing countries.  Additionally, the Global Health Initiative integrates treatment and care with other interventions to provide a holistic approach to improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS.  Along with our global partners, we will continue to focus on saving lives through effective prevention activities, as well as other smart investments to maximize the impact of each dollar spent.

World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder that HIV/AIDS has not gone away.  More than one million Americans currently live with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 become infected each year.  For too long, this epidemic has loomed over our Nation and our world, taking a devastating toll on some of the most vulnerable among us.  On World AIDS Day, we mourn those we have lost and look to the promise of a brighter future and a world without HIV/AIDS.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2010, as World AIDS Day.  I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join in appropriate activities to remember the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.