The Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, as a member of the Lake County Stands Against Stigma Coalition, is sponsoring a free community event to commemorate World AIDS Day on Thursday, December 1st at 5:30 p.m. The event will take place at Waukegan High School's Trapp Auditorium, 2325 Brookside in Waukegan.
World AIDS Day is a global event held annually on December 1st to honor individuals living with HIV, the families, friends, caregivers and communities who support them, and those that have lost their battle against HIV. This year's event will feature inspirational thoughts, performances from local artists and a candle-lighting ceremony to remember those we have lost. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the program beginning promptly at 5:30 p.m. A free dinner for all attendees will immediately follow. This free event is open to the public and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the community that HIV has not gone away and there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight stigma and improve education. The local campaign this year is again focused on erasing the stigma often associated with HIV.
The Lake County Stands Against Stigma Coalition is a collaboration of community members including the Health Department, Catholic Charities of Lake County, Alexian Brothers Housing and Health Alliance's The Harbor, the Office of State Representative Rita Mayfield, the office of Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center and community volunteers. The World AIDS Day event is also supported by the Waukegan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Waukegan Public Schools.
The Coalition members work together for capacity building, advocacy, and the elimination of HIV-related stigma. This stigma includes unfavorable attitudes, beliefs, and policies directed towards people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as their loved ones and communities. Stigma can impact how people living with HIV see themselves and how others think about people living with or affected by HIV. Stigma also prevents people from getting tested, seeking medical care and living full and healthy lives. Until HIV-related stigma is faced head-on, new infections will continue to occur.
For more information about the event, please call the Health Department's Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Program at: (847) 377-8450.
The Health Department's STI Program, located at 2400 Belvidere Road in Waukegan, offers many services including counseling, education, free and confidential HIV testing, educational based support/talk groups, and outreach. For additional information or to make an appointment, call: (847) 377-8450.