Board proclaims June 5 as National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day in Multnomah County

June 4, 2014

Multnomah County’s Board of Commissioners proclaimed National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day countywide for Thursday, June 5 after hearing powerful testimony from a grassroots movement of HIV/AIDS survivors dedicated to ending the isolation among HIV/AIDS  long-term survivors.

That national movement, Let’s Kick A.S.S. (AIDS Survivor Syndrome) has inspired Multnomah County residents to form a local chapter called Let's Kick A.S.S. - PDX .

The local group’s first actions happened at the county board’s May 29 meeting when the board voted unanimously for the proclamation making June 5 National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day in Multnomah County. 

“I’m really glad you brought this to our attention,” said Commissioner Judy Shiprack after hearing the vivid and emotional testimonies from HIV/AIDS survivors.

“I appreciate you sharing your experiences with us. I think it helps us to understand what it would be like to walk a mile in your shoes, and to make the community a better place for survivors.”

James Cox, who has worked at the Multnomah County Health Department for 14 years, told the board he is proud to be a county employee and feels protected by Multnomah County’s non-discriminatory and fair hiring and employment policies and practices.

“I don’t want special treatment,” said Cox, a 57-year-old father of two and grandfather of two. “I just want equal treatment.”

That equal treatment contrasts with reports from that found more than 56 percent of HIV/AIDS patients reported experiencing rejection from service providers, family, friends, church members and intimate partners.

“We have to remove the stigma around HIV/AIDS,” Cox told the board. “It is not gone and still prevails in the community.”

Let’s Kick A.S.S - PDX is working vigorously as a self-empowerment movement to help support HIV/AIDS long-term survivors end isolation and create a future they never dreamed of, as noted in the board’s National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day proclamation.

“Our community has experienced a trauma that is continuing as long as there is this stigma around HIV and AIDS,” said Chair Marissa Madrigal. “We need to raise the awareness of the particular issues, and the best way to do that is to tell stories.”

For more facts on HIV and AIDS visit the official federal HIV/AIDS website.

On Thursday, June 5 starting at 5 p.m. be a part of the National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day by coming down to the N.W. Park Blocks (NW 8th Ave. between Burnside and NW Couch St.) and participating in the survivor walk.  You can also join the group at Hobo’s Restaurant, 120 N.W. 3rd Ave. in Portland at 5:30 p.m. that same evening to celebrate.