West Hollywood community commemorates 'World AIDS Day'

The City of West Hollywood held several events to recognize World AIDS Day Thursday.

On December 1, every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is recognized by people worldwide, and it holds significance for West Hollywood.

"This day is recognized around the world but has special meaning in West Hollywood where we were disproportionately impacted by the height of the HIV crisis," said Lindsey Horvath, newly-elected Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Lauren Meister, the Mayor of West Hollywood agreed. Meister and Horvath were two of many city leaders who attended the Paul Andrew Starke Awards Presentation at the West Hollywood Park Aquatics and Recreation Center. The event honors organizations and people who offer HIV/AIDS care services.

"We do always recognize the day because of all the lives that were lost, all the people who are still suffering with HIV AIDS and also just to show our solidarity and support to find a cure," said Meister.

At the Soulmate Restaurant in West Hollywood, the Foundation for the AIDS Monument held an event too.

"To celebrate World Aids Day, we're gathering in what we call a story circle to have people tell their personal stories about how HIV AIDS affected their lives," said Irwin Rappaport, the Chair for the Board of Directors for the Foundation for the AIDS Monument. 

The monument will become a fixture in the City of West Hollywood in 2023.

"The monument will be a 7,000-square-foot work of public art. We are hoping it will open to the public towards the end of next year," said Rappaport.

Rappaport is passionate about chronicling and preserving the history of the AIDS epidemic for younger generations.

"We think it's critical to record the stories and tell the stories of people, not only people who died but people who were caregivers, activists, community organizers so that those stories can be passed on to younger generations who didn't live through it. People who have lived through COVID don't know that we went through a very similar harrowing experience with hundreds of thousands of people dying in our community so we think it's important for younger generations to know what their forebears went through," said Rappaport.

According to the WHO, more than 38 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2021.