By Special to the Daily World
In observance of World AIDS Day, Thursday, Dec. 1, Mayor Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta hosted the National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities (NAESM), AID Atlanta and other HIV/AIDS community-based organizations in the atrium of Atlanta City Hall recently. NAESM provided free, anonymous HIV testing. In addition, for the second consecutive year, Reed and the City of Atlanta partnered with (RED) to illuminate City Hall red and raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Atlanta City Hall will remain red for the entire month of December.
“The AIDS epidemic has an immense impact that is felt throughout our city, state, nation and across the globe,” said Reed. “We must continue to collaborate with our civic and community partners to make further advances in HIV/AIDS research and bring an end to the AIDS epidemic. In honor of those affected by AIDS, I am pleased to show Atlanta’s unified support by illuminating our building in red and joining NAESM, AID Atlanta and many other civic and community partners for World AIDS Day.”
The theme of the recent program was “Getting to Zero – Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths.” Speakers included Candace Byrd, Reed’s chief of staff; Tracy Elliott, executive director for AID Atlanta; Rudolph Carn, founder and CEO, NAESM Inc.; Kenneth Lee Samuel, senior pastor, Victory for the World Church; Leisha McKinley-Beach, Southern Regional coordinator, Black Aids Institute; and Dr. Patrick O’Neal with the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“This special day serves as the catalyst as to why organizations such as ours and other organizations worldwide provide much needed services, education and at times now — advocacy to continue the work that has to be done in order to conquer the alarming increase in numbers of this disease,” said Rudolph Carn, CEO and Founder of NAESM.
In addition to the free, anonymous HIV testing at today’s event, there were nearly a dozen organizations on hand to answer questions about HIV/AIDS, STDs and other related health concerns.
Participating organizations included Aniz Inc., Atlanta Harm Reduction Center Inc., Citywide Projects Inc., Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Georgia Department of Public Health, Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center, My Brother’s Keeper Inc., Vitamen, Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center and Traxx Atlanta.
Atlanta joined more than 30 cities around the world to illuminate landmarks in red with the goal of eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.