ELLSWORTH — Community members and allies gathered in Ellsworth to recognize World AIDS Day.
“We’re still here and we’re still fighting to have acceptance and educate people on what living with HIV really means,” said Sarah Haas, the LGBTQ+ community organizer for Health Equity Alliance.
For many, the event was personal.
Ron King has been involved in HIV work since the mid-80’s.
“It’s just important. I’ve had a bunch of friends from my generation, that I helped take care of, die,” King said. “I just want to remember them.”
Ellsworth City Councilor Marc Blanchette read a proclamation on behalf of the city.
He said they’ve been recognizing the day for years.
“There’s still unfortunately a social stigma attached to it and we need to get rid of that stigma,” Blanchette said. “It’s a fact of life.”
A proclamation released by Gov. Janet Mills said there are more than 1,600 people living with HIV or AIDS in Maine.
Haas said living in a rural state creates unique challenges getting care.
“If it goes untreated, it can still be a harmful deadly illness,” Haas explained. “We want to make sure people have the tools they need to be well and live well.”
Health Equity Alliance does offer at-home HIV testing.
You can learn more about that on their website.