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Health, Science & Environment

Central Ohio LGBTQ community and supporters celebrate World AIDS Day

Worldwide there are more than 30 million people living with HIV/AIDs.
Chung Sung-Jun
Getty Images
Worldwide there are more than 30 million people living with HIV/AIDs.

Members of the central Ohio LGBTQ community and supporters are celebrating World AIDS Day. The event which started in 1988 remembers those who have died from AIDS with uplifting programs.

"As folks enter the center throughout the day, they can post a picture of a loved one who has passed of AIDS, or write their name on a piece of paper along with it,” says Zach Boyer, Director of Programs and Marketing at Stonewall Columbus. "Later today, we're going to have a karaoke session where folks can sing a song that uplifts or reminds them of their loved one."

It’s estimated more than one million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Worldwide, an estimated 30 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. Boyer says there's still a lot of stigma and misinformation around people affected by HIV. He says medications today can keep the virus at bay.

"Folks don't often realize that if someone diagnosed with HIV is taking their medicine regimen, they can have their viral load down to an undetectable level, meaning that the virus is no longer transmittable by that person,” says Boyer. “As someone who formerly worked in health care, this is even something that is pervasive within the health care system, let alone the everyday person."

Boyer says since deaths from AIDS have dropped, there’s not enough attention on it, and the disease’s continuing effects on LGBTQ communities.

Boyer says the Columbus community does have many resources available for those newly diagnosed or living with HIV such as Equitas Health and Out of the Closet. But he’s concerned some lawmakers are continuing to target the LGBTQ community.

"Oftentimes it's easier to dismiss us or to create legislation that demonizes us, because people don't see us as people,” says Boyer. “I think that is where a lot of work needs to happen, where there might be a lot of folks who are coming from a religious standpoint, that are not living out their true call to love thy neighbor."

Health, Science & Environment
Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.