Today is World AIDS Day and Lincoln Park in East Los Angeles is the site for one of many HIV/AIDS awareness events in and around L.A.
The Wall/Las Memorias is a combined work of architecture, landscaping and a mural in a corner of Lincoln Park that commemorates Latinos whose lives were shortened by AIDS and HIV.
Richard Zaldivar, founder and director of the awareness project, said the names of 20 people who died of AIDS are being added to the monument this weekend at the 18th annual Noche de las Memorias — Night of memories. The wall already bears 420 names.
'We have had thousands who have died from our community and we want to give a name to the disease and give them credibility and their due that they are owed," Zaldivar said.
The World AIDS Day annual gathering features music, poetry, prayer and people sharing their memories of loved ones who died.
Founded in 1993, The Wall/Las Memorias project helps people with HIV to maintain family ties, and to have conversations in churches and neighborhood groups about AIDS, sexuality and the importance of getting tested for HIV.
"It’s important for people to normalize testing and say, I might not have been exposed or I might not be having unsafe sex, but you know what, I want to get tested. I want to be part of the powerful people who are taking this stand," said Zaldivar.
The Wall/Las Memorias offers free HIV testing this afternoon from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Its 18th annual World Aids Day program starts at 7 p.m. tonight in Lincoln Park. The project also supports an AIDS hospice in Tijuana.