The CARE Center at Dignity Health—St. Mary Medical Center: Remembering 40 Million People—Let’s End AIDS
World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st of December each year. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day, and serves as an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, to continue to show support for people living with and affected by HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
The CARE Center at Dignity Health—St. Mary Medical Center hosts community members, supporters, staff, and physicians for an emotional event honoring those who have lost their battle to AIDS and all those who continue to courageously fight the disease at a World AIDS Day commemoration. The annual event has historically included personal stories from CARE clients, a powerful art display illustrating the journey of HIV through the eyes of survivors, and over the years special guests have performed songs and poetry readings that truly inspire hope for a better tomorrow.
Executive Director of the CARE Center: “Knowing your status, by getting tested regularly, is one of the most effective ways to help us End AIDS.”
One such story is that of our friend Ray, whose journey at CARE started over twenty years ago. Ray first heard about CARE from his late partner. Although Ray was asymptomatic for many years, his body eventually began to exhibit the effects of his diagnosis. “Coming to CARE was the best decision I ever made,” states Ray. “AIDS affects every part of your life—physical, mental, spiritual. My CARE doctor said, ‘I can’t cure you, but I can make you feel better.’ I hung onto that – that gave me hope.”
Less than 40 years ago, scientists first discovered the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)—the virus that leads to AIDS. Since then it has become one of the most devastating pandemics in modern history. According to the National AIDS Trust, there are an estimated 37 million people worldwide living with HIV today—1.1 million of them in the United States alone, and more than 35 million have died of HIV/AIDS over the past 35 years.
“Knowing your status, by getting tested regularly, is one of the most effective ways to help us End AIDS,” states Paul Lovely, Executive Director of the CARE Center. “Thanks to the support of various Foundations and Government funding sources, anyone can receive HIV and STI testing at the CARE Center, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.”
The dedication of St. Mary’s CARE Center has been recognized nationally and locally by the City of Long Beach—acknowledging its commitment to End AIDS and support the diverse needs of the its residents. CARE has also been acknowledged by the County of Los Angeles as a Center of Excellence for PrEP and PEP services. CARE has a strong collaborative relationship with various partners, including the City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, to increase awareness, provide resources and education, and raise necessary funds to combat HIV in the community.
If you are in need of support, CARE is here for you.
Follow us on Facebook at StMaryMedicalCenter to learn about this year’s World AIDS Day events and other helpful information.