World AIDS Day 2023
The Foundation for The AIDS Monument partnered with APLA Health to co-host a World AIDS Day commemoration in West Hollywood Park. The event, which was co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood, included a reception, candlelight procession and free screening of the AIDS documentary Commitment to Life.
Click here to view a three-minute video of highlights from the event.
Community members gathered on the top-floor Respite Deck of the Aquatics & Recreation Center for a reception. We heard from Brenda Freiberg, an HIV/AIDS community leader who lost both of her sons to AIDS.
“I think AIDS broke me wide open, and really got me to my heart,” said Freiberg. “It was the best thing in the world for me to be thrown in with a bunch of people with HIV, fighting for their lives and the lives of everyone else around. It gave me courage, even though we were in the same boat.”
John Heilman, a member of the West Hollywood City Council who was among the first to be elected to the council in 1984 amid the burgeoning AIDS crisis, told reception attendees: “We can end this (HIV/AIDS) epidemic in southern California and the United States as long as we can continue to provide testing and provide treatment. We’re really on the cusp of ending this epidemic.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath spoke about how ending HIV seemed to be “an unthinkable goal” in 1988, the year of the first World AIDS Day.
“We come together to commit ourselves today to end the HIV epidemic,” she said. “That remains in reach, as long as we remain dedicated.”
Craig Bowers from APLA Health also spoke at the event.
The candlelight procession began at the top of the Rec Center, down the Grand Staircase, and through the park. The group proceeded to march around the block, through the Rainbow District and ending at West Hollywood City Council Chambers. In Council Chambers, the evening continued with a screening of the award-winning 2023 documentary Commitment to Life.
Commitment to Life documents the true story of the fight against HIV/AIDS in West Hollywood and Los Angeles and how an intrepid group of people living with HIV/AIDS, doctors, movie stars, studio moguls and activists changed the course of the epidemic.
The first World AIDS Day took place 35 years ago. The theme for 2023 was “Remember and Commit.”
“Since 1988, we’ve marked this day to remember those we’ve lost, to fight against stigma, and to educate people about HIV and AIDS,” FAM Board Chair Irwin M. Rappaport told the crowd gathered for the reception.