Oakland, CA – On Monday, July 6, 2020, the City of Oakland started hosting panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to hang on the front of Oakland City Hall. The AIDS Memorial quilt has more than 100,000 names stitched in remembrance of loved ones that have been lost to AIDS. Panels are hung in Cities such as San Francisco, Washington DC. and now Oakland.
Oakland Council President Kaplan, who has a history of working on HIV/AIDS education and advocacy, and is Oakland’s only openly-LGBT Council member, stated:
“As we remember and honor the victims of the AIDS epidemic, let us also learn and utilize the lessons of that experience. HIV is not over, and continues to threaten lives and health in our communities. We need to continue to protect our communities and each other, while also doing more to respond to COVID-19.
To successfully respond to the COVID pandemic we need to respect science, make sure prejudice doesn’t undermine our response, and take steps to protect and value our entire community. With both COVID-19 and HIV, using protection has been proven to be effective and important. Masks and condoms can work to help prevent the spread of disease. Political discomfort and other refusals to support masks and condoms, and macho posturing, have caused some to hold back on recommending the use of these protections, which costs lives. And the harms of prejudice and discrimination, along with the dangers of mass incarceration, worsen our nation’s response to disease prevention.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects our Black Community, we realise the inequities with the current system has historically shown in our fight against AIDS. While 13.4 % of the American population are Black, over 38.1% of people who are incarcerated are Black and over 40% of people who are living with HIV in the U.S. are Black. The correlation between high rates of HIV among Black populations in the US can be partially attributed to mass incarceration due to the high number of Black Americans who are imprisoned and the lack of access to prevention programs and treatment in these spaces.
Please visit the https://aidsmemorial.org/custom-templates/history-3 for more information regarding the AIDS Quilt.
Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan is an honors graduate from MIT and Stanford Law School, and was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember, Kaplan was re-elected in 2016, and in 2019, was selected unanimously by her colleagues to serve as Council President.
She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).
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