December 1st is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for community members to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS by increasing awareness, remembering those lost, demonstrating support for those living with HIV, and sharing solutions for moving forward and ending this epidemic.

We want to let you know about a couple of events happening in the District this weekend and Monday to commemorate this important day:

On Saturday, December 1st at 5pm, join community members at a candlelight vigil in Dupont Circle organized by Whitman-Walker Health in honor of all those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.

This Monday, December 3rd, join advocates, stakeholders, and community members in a rally to call on Mayor Vincent C. Gray and his Commission on HIV/AIDS to attack this epidemic with a comprehensive strategy that tackles issues such as lack of housing, incarceration, access to care, substance abuse, and more. The rally will take place from 3:30-5:30 pm in front of the Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW).

As the Fair Budget Coalition (FBC) states on its blog, “A comprehensive, district-wide, multi-sector HIV/AIDS strategy is necessary because the needs of people at risk of, or living with HIV/AIDS are dynamic, overlapping, and interrelated.  An effective and sustainable approach to HIV/AIDS must address the tendency of individuals to only prioritize their health when the myriad factors of work, home, family, and finances permit them to do so. A comprehensive plan that stretches across the District government, including and expanding beyond the DOH, and incorporates the expertise of the vast coalition of non-governmental organizations and individuals is what we need to combat this epidemic.”

Tens of thousands of DC residents live with HIV/AIDS and many of them do not have access to vital resources that would allow them to maintain their health. At the Legal Clinic, we are far too familiar with the struggles of our clients who live with HIV/AIDS and who cannot keep up with their medications or maintain their health because they’re forced to sleep on the streets or in crowded shelters where a compromised immune system makes them vulnerable to life threatening illnesses. For these clients, access to safe, affordable housing is a matter of life or death.

We hope to see you on Monday at 3:30 pm in front of Wilson Building. Together, we can raise our voices and demand that our leaders make the investments necessary to end HIV/AIDS in the District.

For additional background and information on the rally, click here.