World AIDS Day: Area doctors reflect on strides made over time

MADISON, Wis. — On Wednesday, HIV specialists at UW Health joined millions around the globe to recognize World AIDS Day.

They said the day is a time to remember the lives lost, making up six million deaths across the globe and over 700,000 in the U.S. However, they said it’s also a day to celebrate the progress that’s been made.

“A disease that was almost a death sentence has become has been transformed into a chronic, manageable and controlled disease in our lifetime; a remarkable feat,” said Dr. Dawd Siraj.

Siraj said alongside this reflection and celebration, the world must also commit to a future of finding a cure and minimizing gaps between minorities and equitable healthcare and disease management.

UW Health will hold several community events to commemorate the day, officials announced Wednesday.

RELATED: 800+ ribbons fill Bascom Hill to mark World AIDS Day

Members of the HIV Care and Prevention Program will cover Bascom Hill with 800 red ribbons, representing each individual living with HIV in Dane County.

“There has been amazing progress in HIV treatment and prevention over the last four decades,” UW Health community engagement specialist Chris Chapman said in a statement. “Today we honor people living with HIV and show them that they are not alone.”

There will be a community bingo event held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m to remember and honor loved ones Wednesday. Pre-registration is required and prizes will be on offer. You can pre-register here.

UW Health also plans to launch a social media campaign with #StopHIVStigmaWI.

Data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows that nearly 7,000 Wisconsinites were living with HIV at the end of 2020.