Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. It is a chance to commemorate those who have died or had their lives affected by a disease that is still misunderstood today. Science and medicine have progressed a lot but there is still no cure and millions world wide are affected.
Last night I had the privilege to photograph the Utah AIDS Foundation’s 30th Anniversary event at Publik Coffee. By the way, the building is amazing… if I could have a photo studio in a warehouse space like Publik Coffee I would die a happy man. Anyway, the party was held at Publik to recognize the volunteers and specifically the efforts of Babs De Lay who was a pioneer in helping people affected with AIDS in the early days.
One volunteer shared his story about learning about his diagnosis of HIV and the support he found from the Utah AIDS Foundation.
In the early years people didn’t want to be around, treat, or see people who had AIDS. People didn’t understand what it was and fear kept many people from receiving the help they needed. Local doctor, Kristen Ries was one of the first doctors to help patients with HIV/AIDS. She frequently attends these fundraising events and it is a joy to see her there.
The room was decorated with t-shirts from the annual Walk for Life that is hosted as a fundraiser in late summer. I’ve photographed a number of these walks. I even have a few shirts!
The Utah AIDS Foundation would be nothing without their volunteers. It is heartwarming to see these youth help out the Foundation and ultimately those who go for services. The UAF provides onsite HIV testing, STI testing, counseling, group meetings, prevention, courses, meals, Thanksgiving meals, and Christmas packages, they also provide assistance in navigating and finding healthcare and healthcare services.
What can you do? Get tested. Know your status. More and more people don’t know they carry HIV. They need to know so they can get the help they need and to prevent the transmission of this virus.