December 1st is World Aids Day. Tonight a service was held at St. Lucas United Church in Evansville to honor local people whose lives have been affected by HIV.
“I expected my parents to outlive me,” HIV survivor Bud Shipley says.
Elliot Howard from Evansville also knows someone who has lost their battle. “I remember really young somebody that was a family friend dying of HIV and Aids.”
December 1st marks a day of pain for a lot of people.
“I always had my mom in the back of my head going ‘PMA PMA’ and finally I had to ask what that meant and she said positive mental attitude,” Shipley says.
World Aids Day draws attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide, and toniGht, Tri-Staters remembered those whose lives have been affected.
Wally Paynter, president of the Tri-State Alliance says, “We’ll have people from all walks of life here from people that are very religious to people that are not religious you know every socio economical group possible.”
Howard says HIV can affect anyone. “HIV doesn’t care what color you are what gender you are sexual orientation anything.”
As candles are lit for those who have passed away from HIV, some are looking to the future to prevent more candles from being lit.
“There is a group of people that need help and using a needle exchange definitely reaches those people and if it helps slowing the spread of HIV than we really need to do it,” Howard says.
Vanderburgh County doesn’t have a needle exchange program in place, but some think it could make a difference.
“That kind of program is going to take away the dangers of needles being found in playgrounds and parking lots and things like that,” Shipley says.
Paynter agrees. “It’s always worth it to follow the science and have every HIV prevention possible whether that’s prep, condoms or needle exchange.”
While there is hope for prevention, Shipley uses this day to remember how lucky he is.
“There was an old slogan back then and it was miracles happen and so I’ve always kept that in the back of my mind,” Shipley says.
The community shines light on those who did not get their miracle. The service kicked off the Tri-State Alliance Aids holiday project efforts.
In Indiana more than 11,000 people are living with HIV, 440 of those are in Vanderburgh County.