PHOTOS BY DONNA ACETO/ REPORTING BY PAUL SCHINDLER | Activists marked December 1, World AIDS Day, in Manhattan with a vigil and march that began at Trinity Lutheran Church on West 100th Street and proceeded by candlelight to Advent Lutheran Church and Broadway United Church of Christ, which share space at 93rd and Broadway.
Brent Nicholson Earle, an early ACT UP member who founded the American Run to End AIDS (AREA), led participants at Trinity Lutheran in reading the names of those who died from the epidemic. Banners bearing some of their names were carried in the march.
At Advent Lutheran/ Broadway United Church of Christ, Andy Medina of Streetwise and Safe –– a group that counsels youth of color about how to safely handle police stops –– talked about how young people who are stopped and frisked by the NYPD have been arrested on suspicion of sex work if they had too many condoms in their possession. Reverend James Campbell, the pastor of Broadway United Church of Christ, also addressed the group.
Since the AIDS epidemic was first identified in the early 1980s, about 650,000 Americans have died from complications of HIV disease. More than 100,000 of those deaths were in New York City.
Worldwide, AIDS has cost roughly 30 million people their lives.
AIDS deaths have declined steadily in New York City since antiretroviral combination treatment was introduced in 1996, but even as new infections in the city declined in 2010 by eight percent, they grew by 1.5 percent among gay and bisexual men, according to data from the city’s health department.
The pattern is similar across the country, where roughly 50,000 new infections occur every year. In 2009, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 64 percent of those infections occurred due to male-to-male sexual contact. Slightly under 40 percent of the new infections among gay and bisexual men came from just seven metropolitan areas –– New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.
US News and World Report quoted Dr. Jonathan Mermin, the CDC's director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, saying, "Gay and bisexual men are over 40 times more likely to have HIV than heterosexuals.”