Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. David Ho Honored on World AIDS Day with National AIDS Memorial’s Leadership Recognition Award

Powerful, Inspirational Voices on the Frontlines of two Pandemics Speak Out During Virtual Event

San Francisco, Dec. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National AIDS Memorial’s annual World AIDS Day commemoration brought together powerful voices from the AIDS and Covid-19 pandemics together for an inspiring conversation about health justice, social activism, remembrance, and hope.

Available for public viewing at www.aidsmemorial.org, World AIDS Day 2020 – A National Conversation, included a distinguished list of guest speakers and video tributes, with thousands of people from across the country coming together to honor the lives lost, the survivors, the activism and the heroes from over the span of four decades and two devastating pandemics.

Award-winning actor and long-time AIDS advocate, Judith Light, hosted the day’s commemoration event that featured Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and David D. Ho, M.D., Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University.  They were honored with the memorial’s National Leadership Recognition Award for their lifelong commitment, work and profound impact they have had over the span of 40 years and two pandemics in advancing science, treatments and education around both diseases.

ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, moderated the insightful discussion and, at its conclusion, asked both leaders about the forum’s theme of “hope,” and to share with the audience the future health outlook regarding HIV/AIDS and Covid-19. 

“It comes back to science. I think science will deliver solutions for both HIV/AIDS and Covid-19,” said Dr. Ho. “Given the unprecedented mobilization of the scientific community to address both of these problems, I think vaccines will be forthcoming. Better treatments will be coming. And in addition to all that, I think we will come up with testing strategies to help reopen our societies as quickly as possible.” 

“I just would have to echo what David says, hope in two directions,” said Dr. Fauci. “One, the hope of what science itself would deliver, but also the hope that the world will much more appreciate the importance of science so that we can really cut science loose in the sense of getting more people involved and utilizing the enormous potential of science, particularly, getting young people involved in making science a career whether it's the biological sciences or the physical sciences.”

In a conversation moderated by ABC News’ Co-Anchor of GMA3, T.J. Holmes, several leading mayors – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio – discussed the impact the pandemics have had on marginalized populations, particularly among communities of color.

Activists who have helped spark change and movements – Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab and Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Cleve Jones, Co-Founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and Kristin Urquiza, Co-Founder of Marked by COVID – were part of a conversation about activism and the ongoing struggle for social justice, moderated by Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a message of hope and honored Congressman John Lewis, who passed away earlier this year and who was as a powerful voice for social justice.  The Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, delivered the invocation.

“Today was very moving and extremely powerful on so many levels,” said John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial. “Today we pulled the thread forward and wove a beautiful tapestry representing forty years of the AIDS crisis, delivering a profoundly honest and inspirational conversation of hope, action and resilience.”

Musical tributes included songwriter Alida McKeon who performed her newly-written song “HOPE”.  The event concluded with a beautiful virtual choir performance of “Will I See?,” produced by Kevin Mayes, that helped the Memorial officially unveiled the first-ever virtual exhibition of the AIDS Memorial Quilt featured on its website that features nearly 10,000 Quilt panels representing all 50 states and U.S. territories, using the power and beauty of the Quilt to help the nation heal during these difficult times. 

After the program, the memorial released a special video on its YouTube Channel of the traditional reading of newly engraved names in the memorial of loved ones lost to AIDS, those who loved them, and longtime friends of the memorial.

The Presenting Partner for the World AIDS Day 2020 event is Gilead Sciences. Co-Sponsors are Chevron and Quest Diagnostics.  Additional major sponsors include Vivent Health, Wells Fargo, BioMarin, Blue Shield of California, Excelerate Foundation National Hemophilia Foundation, Murray Reese Foundation, Nestlé, and Tito’s Vodka, Morrison & Foerster, Aon, Recology, Splunk, Salesforce, Saks Fifth Avenue, Human Rights Campaign, and Until There’s A Cure. Media partners include Hearst Newspapers, iHeart Radio/PRIDE Radio Network, the San Francisco Chronicle, POZ, Advocate and HIV Plus Magazine. See the full list of partners.

2020 marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the United States, a pandemic that has led to nearly 700,000 lives lost and still no cure four decades later. This year, our nation struggles through another pandemic – the fight against Covid-19 – where the horrific loss of life has surpassed 250,000 in a matter of months.

View the entire World AIDS Day event and visit the Quilt Virtual Exhibition at www.aidsmemorial.org.


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