World AIDS Day serves to honor those whose lives were lost to HIV/AIDS, recognize the struggle to eliminate HIV stigma, and urge everyone around the globe to make a commitment to help end the HIV epidemic.
Elaine Seaton, MS, is the executive director of Casa Esperanza Project, which is hosting its first annual World AIDS Day event on Dec. 4. She reflects on her familial experiences with HIV/AIDS and how that motivated her to work with people living with HIV/AIDS and improve prevention and care.
“World AIDS Day is personal to me since several members of my family were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic because of a blood transfusion to treat their condition of hemophilia,” said Seaton. “I was able to bear witness to the injustices that my loved ones faced. I went on to work closely with people living with HIV/AIDS for about nine years at Care2Prevent, which provided them with direct care and connected them to important resources.”
This year’s theme is “Remember and Commit.” On the 35th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day, organizers remind us to remember the lives lost from HIV/AIDS. We are also called to act and commit to improving health equity, raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, promoting scientific education, and supporting organizations that help individuals who are at risk and living with HIV. Seaton explains how she and the organization she leads are fulfilling that commitment.
“As the executive director of Casa Esperanza Project, I work with women and children experiencing homelessness, so it’s important to continue to provide health education services that include HIV and STI testing,” said Seaton. “We partner with organizations like the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination (CCHE) and Care2Prevent to provide this service to our residents to ensure that they are educated and have access to resources.”
Casa Esperanza Project’s World AIDS Day event is funded by a Third Coast CFAR community mini-award to CCHE’s BIA (Black Incubator and Accelerator) Project. This community event will be held on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at the Shine Bright Community Center in Chicago. The event will provide free HIV testing, a panel discussion, drag performance and fashion show, snacks, and more. There is no registration required. Additional information about the event is available here.
“We are grateful to the CFAR for their support in helping Casa Esperanza Project host its first annual World AIDS Day celebration,” said Seaton. “The purpose of this event is to promote education, celebrate survivors and reduce stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.”
Everyone is encouraged to make their voices heard this World AIDS Day. To learn more and get involved, visit the HIV.gov World AIDS Day website.