By, Taylor Berry
Not only does December 1, mean 24 days till Christmas, but it's also World Aids Day.
For the past 29 years people from around the world have been joining forces to honor those who are living with HIV.
World AIDS Day helps to bring awareness to the deadly virus, and to those who have lost their lives to this disease. According to HIV.GOV more than 1 million people in the United States are HIV positive and 1 in 7 don't know it.
This year Houston hosted its 18th Annual World Aids Day luncheon, which featured key note speaker Greg Louganis. Louganis was an Olympic diving champion earning 5 Olympic gold medals, 5 world championship titles and 47 national titles.
In 1995 Louganis came out publicly and tested positive for HIV in 1998. “I felt like I was living on an island with barely a phone for communication to the outside world because that's what secrets do to you they isolate you and I felt so isolated and I knew I probably wasn’t the only one,” said Louganis.
Louganis's story has inspired millions across the nation. While people are living and functioning with aids, we are being reminded that it still remains a major global issue. “We understand that everyone has an HIV status they are either positive or negative, but it's important to know your status, so that you can get the proper treatment to get to that level of zero transmission,” Louganis said.
The city of Houston continues to raise awareness through a variety of events. From the luncheon to free clinics, the city left no area untouched.
The Catholic Charities Women’s Veterans Service was out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. helping people find out their status. “Success has been really great today, it’s been awesome. We had people here lined up and ready to get tested before we even got open,” said volunteer Monica Bridges.
The mission of World Aids Day is to remind people that there is help available. “What we want the community to get from this, is to know that there are community agents out here that are interested in them in their health,” said Bridges.
Know your status and get tested. You can find free and confidential testing centers near you at https://gettested.cdc.gov/