More than 150 Long Beach community members gathered at the Terrace Theater fountains on Dec. 1 to watch several downtown Long Beach structures be illuminated in red in honor of World AIDS Day.
Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster initiated the illumination of some of downtown Long Beach’s most notable architectural structures, including the Queen Mary, Terrace Theater fountains, the Convention Center, Hyatt Hotel, Gazebo/Bird Cage, the LED wall tree at the Renaissance, Shoreline Square, Promenade, Pike water fountain, THUMS Islands, Sky Room, and The Madison Restaurant.
“Turning downtown Long Beach red on World AIDS Day is a striking visual reminder that we all need to support the fight against AIDS,” said Foster. “I’m proud to see so many Long Beach community members standing together at our inaugural Long Beach RED rally.”
Dr. Audra Deveikis, Long Beach Memorial Center’s director of Pediatric Family HIV Center, spoke about the current status of the fight against AIDS and encouraged rally attendees to support efforts such as Long Beach RED, which was a joint effort between Foster, the Downtown Long Beach Associates (DLBA) and the Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“To have the ability and partnerships in place to turn downtown Long Beach red for the evening in recognition of World AIDS Day is exemplary and indicative of the partnerships needed on so many levels to fight and eradicate this disease,” said Steve Goodling, President & CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“This is a great opportunity to raise awareness, not only for an important cause, but for local organizations that are making a difference every day in our community in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said DLBA President and Chief Executive Officer Kraig Kojian.
Nineteen downtown Long Beach restaurants donated a portion of that night’s dinner proceeds to four nonprofit organizations that focus on AIDS-related care and education in Long Beach: the Long Beach AIDS Foundation, Wells House Hospice Foundation, The Center’s HIV Counseling and Testing Program, and Long Beach C.A.R.E. Program.
Since its launch in 2006, RED partners and events have generated more than $150 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, supporting HIV and AIDS programs in Africa that have reached more than 5 million people with testing, counseling, medication and services. Long Beach was one of more than 30 cities in the United States that lighted their most distinctive landmarks in red, joining New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle and others. The lightings highlighted the attainable goal of ending mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015, creating the first generation of babies born HIV-free in 30 years. Despite the fact that HIV/AIDS is preventable and treatable, UNAIDS statistics published recently estimate 370,000 children are infected with the disease, down from 430,000 in 2008. About 90 percent of these babies are born in sub-Saharan Africa.