Hannah Michelle Bussa
World AIDS Day was commemorated on Dec. 1 to honor those living with HIV and AIDS, remember those who have died, and to raise awareness.
Tommy Dennis is the Outreach Coordinator for the Nebraska AIDS Project, an organization that leads the community in the fight to overcome HIV/AIDS and its stigma through education, supportive services and advocacy.
“World AIDS Day is used not only as an awareness day for HIV but to honor those who we have lost and those who continue to fight against HIV and AIDS,” he said.
World AIDS Day was first observed on Dec. 1, 1988.
“World AIDS Day is important as it acknowledges HIV and AIDS are a real issue,” Dennis said. “Since its inception, the day has been used to increase awareness around those impacted by the virus.”
Dennis said World AIDS Day is still important in 2021 to continue raising awareness as a means of eliminating the stigma that exists.
“It is also important to promote ways to prevent transmission of the virus through testing and other preventative measures,” he said.
This year’s theme was “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.” Dennis said it is important to highlight that equity is key in the fight to end the HIV epidemic.
“All voices must be centered, especially those from marginalized communities,” he said.
Dennis also highlighted the importance of getting tested.
“Despite stigma, HIV can affect anyone at risk and it is of high importance that everyone gets tested regularly,” he said.
The Nebraska AIDS Project office in Omaha, located at 250 S. 77th Street, Suite A, has walk-in testing on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. All HIV testing is free.
The Nebraska AIDS Project also offers appointments Monday through Friday. Their phone number is 402-552-9260 and appointments can be booked online.
The Nebraska AIDS Project also offers support groups, client services and other programs. Find more information at nap.org.