Prominent city officials, including Mayor Vincent Gray, Dr. Gregory Pappas, head of the city’s AIDS administration, and Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, were among participants in D.C.’s annual World AIDS Day commemoration held Dec. 1 in Dupont Circle.
Don Blanchon, executive director of Whitman-Walker Health, which sponsored the event, told the gathering that continued scientific advances in the treatment of HIV and encouraging signs that HIV prevention efforts in D.C. are curtailing new infections are signs of optimism for the city and the country.
“However, nothing – nothing – can and will ever erase the tremendous pain and suffering that HIV/AIDS has caused in the last three decades,” he said. “There are very few among us who do not know someone who’s courageously living with HIV and fighting every day. And there are very few among us who do not know at least one if not more family members, friends, colleagues who have lost their life to HIV.”
As about 150 people participating in the event held lit candles, Blanchon added, “Every day that we’re in this battle we need to remember their face, their touch, their smile, their sense of humor, and how they affected our lives. Tonight is the time for all of us to remember those people who were so dear to us who are not here.”