World AIDS Day: How to fight against the southern HIV epidemic

Here’s what you need to know about Friday’s World AIDS Day event. Plus, local and regional HIV/AIDS resources.

For HIV/AIDS, raising awareness and access to resources truly saves lives.

Since 1988, millions of people across the globe have observed World AIDS Day on December 1 to show solidarity with all those affected by HIV/AIDS. It’s a day dedicated to reducing disparities in HIV prevention and care, and every ally and supporter involved in raising awareness helps. 

This Friday, the 35th annual World AIDS Day makes its way to Memphis, TN with the 2023 observance that calls to “Remember and Commit” to HIV/AIDS victims. 

Read on to learn more about Friday’s event, how HIV/AIDS affects people in the south and what local and regional resources are available for those in need. 

high-angle-red-ribbon-cancer-awareness-concept, world aids day
World AIDS Day, via Freepik

Facts about HIV/AIDS in the south

The south, and specifically Memphis and surrounding areas, have been greatly impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic with the second-highest rate of new HIV cases among metropolitan areas. This is despite an overall decline in U.S. cases in 2014.  

However, not everyone in the south is equally affected. Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino people have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since its onset in the early 1980s. For example, in 2020, Black people were nearly 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV infection than white people. Similarly, Hispanics/Latino people represented just 18.5 percent of the population in 2019 but 25 percent of people with HIV.

Studies show that poverty, discrimination, prejudice, systematic racism, and lack of education are some of the causes for this inequality.

Here are some useful HIV/AIDS resources in Memphis:

Out Memphis 

OutMemphis offers free HIV testing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. You don’t need an appointment, you can simply show up between the available hours listed on their website. The nonprofit organization also offers other PrEP and HIV resources for those in need, along with various events. IG: @outmemphis

The Corner Cooper Young

The Corner is a welcoming neighborhood resource in the Mid-South that offers free same-day access to PEP and PrEP. Its team provides tools for HIV prevention as well as STI testing in an inclusive, friendly, sex-positive, and stigma-free setting. IG: @thecorner806

CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health

CHOICES offers comprehensive, nonjudgmental sexual and reproductive health services in Memphis to the LGBTIQ+ community. They include both transparent payments as well as insurance coverage with certain providers. IG: @yourchoicesclinic

Regional Prep and HIV Resources

Latinos in the South

Latinos in the Deep South works towards creating more health care access, HIV education and resources, and immigrant rights to Latino communities in seven southern states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. IG: ​@latinodeepsouth

Southern Aids Coalition

Since 2001, The Southern AIDS Coalition’s (SAC) has been working towards their community-driven goal to put an end to the HIV and STI epidemics in the South by advocating for easily accessible healthcare, housing, necessary support services, and prevention of HIV and STIs. IG: @southernaidscoalition

Show solidarity at this year’s #WorldAIDSDay in Memphis

The Shelby County Health Department’s Ryan White Program is hosting a free annual World AIDS Day event in downtown Memphis this Friday, December 1st. World AIDS Day in Memphis features a symbolic balloon presentation, a buffet, HIV resources and vendors. as well as guest speaker, non-binary Black activist and author of All Boys Aren’t Blue, George Johnson. You can show up in solidarity with all those affected by the HIV epidemic, especially those of us in the south.

World AIDS Day Program. Friday, December 1st, 2023, 5:30 p.m. The Cadre Building. 149 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103