17th ANNUAL WORLD AIDS DAY MEMORIAL EVENT
Mayor “Bud” Caulfield to Read Proclamation at City Council Meeting December 1, 2009
This year’s World AIDS Day event will begin at the December 1st Lowell City council meeting. Susan Dargan-Hart, Director of Homelessness and HIV Prevention Programs for the Institute of Health and Recovery will address the Council on Homelessness and HIV/AIDS; and the need for safe affordable housing in our city. Mayor Caulfield will then read a World AIDS DAY in the city of Lowell proclamation to attendees and public officials. Event participants will then gather outside of City Hall where a candle light vigil will take place and a possession down Merrimack Street to Kearney Square. The event will end at Middlesex Community College where there will be an award ceremony and showing of an AIDS Quilt provided by the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers.
The first World AIDS Day event was organized by the World Health Organization on December 1, 1988. For over 20 years the annual event has served to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic, the spread of HIV infection, to help fight prejudice, improve education and outreach; and most important of all honor those who have died from HIV/AIDS.
The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights.‘ Activists throughout the world are working to remind everyone that HIV has not gone away and to ensure universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care for everyone.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the city of Lowell ranks 7th out of the 20 cities cited, with the highest HIV infection rates in the Commonwealth. There are approximately 24,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts. The average annual rate of HIV infections in Lowell, Massachusetts between 2004 and 2006 was 25 per 100,000 while the state average was 13 per 100,000. The rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in Lowell was 434 per 100,000 compared to the state average of 267 according to the MA Department of Public Health, Office of HIV/AIDS. This represents an 11% increase in Lowell with a 4% increase statewide. Of the 4% increase in HIV infections statewide, 48% were in Middlesex County.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV are under the age of 25 and die from AIDS before they are 35.
City of Lowell, Department of Planning and Development
City of Lowell Hunger Homeless Commission
Institute for Health and Recovery
Lowell Community Health Center
Lowell House, Inc.
Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers
Middlesex Community College
Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Lowell