Patients, Employees, Community Unite to Raise Awareness of HIV at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach
2016-12-05 · By Editor
Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach celebrated the progress that is being made for those affected by HIV/AIDS on Thursday, Dec. 1 in honor of World AIDS Day. In the United States, there are 1.2 million people affected with HIV and of those people one in every eight don’t know that they are infected. The event welcomed patients, employees and community members to unite in the fight against HIV by raising awareness, encouraging testing and helping to dismantle the stigmas often associated with HIV/AIDS.
The celebration was hosted by the Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center at Miller Children’s, which cares for infants, children, adolescents and pregnant women who are at risk for, or infected with, a variety of disorders, including HIV/AIDS.
Audra Deveikis, M.D., medical director, Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center, Miller Children’s, was one of the key speakers at the event and discussed the history of HIV/AIDS and how far treatment has progressed.
Amongst the speakers was Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center patient, Kennedy Kiboro. Kiboro openly discussed his journey living with HIV and how he has overcome challenges throughout his life in a speech that brought tears to people’s eyes.
As a nod to the AIDS Memorial Quilt that was established in 1987, representatives from the HIV Teen Support Group at Miller Children’s surprised Dr. Deveikis – long-time medical director of the Bickerstaff Center – with a quilt of patient artwork that they created throughout the year.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was first displayed at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Since then, more than 14 million people have visited the quilt at displays worldwide. As a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic, more than 48,000 individual memorial panels commemorated the life of someone who died of AIDS.
To encourage testing, Miller Children’s partnered with the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services to offer free rapid HIV screenings throughout the day utilizing their mobile testing van.
The event promoted hope for better treatment options and, one day, a cure. Participants signed posters of a giant red ribbon with their own personal messages of hope for the cause.
“We still have a long way to go in reducing the number of people affected by HIV,” says Deveikis. “Through education and support from events like this, HIV no longer has to be a death sentence.”