December 1, 2023
MCHD observes World AIDS Day with Second Line Parades
MOBILE, Ala. — World AIDS Day is observed each year on December 1. On this Friday, the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) and Family Health – its primary care division – celebrated in a special way.
In the past, the day was used to remember those who had passed away from the disease. Ty Tover, a peer counselor at MCHD, and Michelle Bernard, who oversees MCHD’s Ryan White Program, said this year’s observance focused on those who have survived.
Three “Second Line Parades” took place with staff and special guests — including AIDS Alabama South and Franklin Primary Health — at the Keeler Memorial Building in Downtown Mobile and along North Bayou Street. Decorated umbrellas and red scarfs were waved by those in attendance. It can be viewed at https://youtu.be/cxqypcECU_I
“The Mobile County Health Department celebrates World AIDS Day in a true Mobile style,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer of Mobile County. “Historically, December 1st was recognized to remember all the lives lost from HIV infections. This time from diagnosis to death, in many cases, was short, one to two years.
“Today, life expectancy following diagnosis with HIV infection has changed to decades. We have great medical treatments that nearly eradicate the infection from the individual. The treated individual has no virus detected and their immune system is better protected. This reduces the risks of developing other infections and transmitting the virus to others.”
Dr. Michaels pointed out that PrEP (pre-exposure) and PEP (post-exposure) medications allow partners to protect themselves even further than the use of abstinence techniques and condoms. However, he emphasized that condoms still remain important in prevention.
“So, staff from the Health Department, Family Health, and guests took to the street in between rain showers to celebrate a Second Line Parade and showing red in support of the day by ‘beginning the new life together’,” he said.
Dr. Michaels, Mr. Tover and Ms. Bernard all agreed people should know their status and get tested.
“HIV infections when properly treated become a chronic disease and people are living longer with the illness,” Dr. Michaels said. “If you have any questions, please contact your health care provider or the Mobile County Health Department.”