Local leaders and organizations in Santa Clara County planned to gather Wednesday evening to commemorate the 33rd World AIDS day with a candlelight vigil, flag raising and other ceremonies.
Since 1988, Dec. 1 has been a day to unite the world in the fight against HIV.
In Santa Clara County, 6,778 people were diagnosed with HIV since then. According to county data, 4,956 people were diagnosed with AIDS.
"Santa Clara County has never stopped working to support people living with HIV by funding programs like the Getting to Zero new HIV infections," county Supervisor Cindy Chavez said.
She said the science already exists to stop new HIV infections and HIV-related deaths, "but the County understood that all the medicine and prevention in the world means nothing if you don't get it to the people who need it."
The people most impacted by the disease are the same historically disenfranchised communities in the county. In 2020, Hispanic/Latinx residents made up 56% of new HIV diagnoses in the county.
Black people made up 9% of new cases in the county, despite only making up 2% of the overall population of the county, data from the STI and HIV annual report found.
So, for these reasons, the county is participating in the global day.
"For the past two years, county staff and community partners have continued working tirelessly to maintain life-saving HIV services despite the heavy burden of the COVID-19 response," said Dr. Sarah Rudman, assistant health officer with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
Rudman continued, "in some of the darkest times, they continued providing HIV testing, HIV prevention medication, and connections to HIV medical care that were a lifeline for community members urgently needing those services."
County officials noted that since 2014, the county has consistently had a higher percentage than the national average of successfully linking HIV-infected people to medical care.
This is important because those infected who learn about it early "live longer, healthier lives" and are less likely to spread HIV, the county said in a statement.