December 3, 2012

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World AIDS Day message: AIDS is not a death sentence

AIDS Quilt in Kingston

KINGSTON – Over 30 people gathered at the LGBTQ Community Center in Kingston Saturday afternoon to commemorate World AIDS Day and to get a firsthand look at a section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  Each panel of the quilt commemorates someone who lost their life to the AIDS virus.

Area resident Bonnie Brill has been a member of the LGBTQ Center for a few years and has friends who have died of AIDS.  She has come to the memorial for a few years.

“It is good to see people come out, and the awareness; the people, the support and to know that people are involved and want to know more,” Brill said, noting there are the reasons she keeps coming.

Nancy Sweeney doesn’t personally know anyone with HIV/AIDS.   She attended to support her son who is gay.

Fred Mayo, president of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, spoke about the history behind the day's event and the current realities of AIDS/HIV.

“Over 50 percent of the adults who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender over 50 are dealing with AIDS/HIV or something related to it; so it’s still alive," Mayo said.

UPWORDS (Ulster Putnam Westchester Rockland Duchess Sullivan) Voices, a Mid-Hudson Valley organization dedicated to sharing the stories of individuals who are affected by HIV/AIDS, showed a video of some of those voices. They stressed the importance of coming out as both a gay person and a person living with HIV to those who haven’t yet had that courage.

Amember of the audience, told of his experience living with HIV. It is no longer detectable in his body. The message he wants to get out is about the new methods of treatment and the positive outcomes.

“It’s important to know that it no longer has to be a death sentence,” he said.

Attendees at the center then took candles in a rainbow colored glass holders and walked about a block to the Old Dutch Church where the names of those who have died from the virus were read.


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