May 27, 2011
On Sunday, about 100 volunteers installed a giant red AIDS awareness ribbon on the eastern slope of San Francisco's Twin Peaks to mark the 30th anniversary of the epidemic. CDC's first report of the condition that would become known as AIDS was published on June 5, 1981. The ribbon is a project of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF); it will remain on display until June 19.
San Francisco has been profoundly affected by HIV/AIDS. Through this March, 34,716 residents have been diagnosed with HIV; 19,393 have died of AIDS-related causes; and more than 15,000 are living with the virus. Activists worry, however, that today's younger San Franciscans have little knowledge of the epidemic's early years, when the disease devastated the city and angry demonstrators demanded access to treatment and an end to discrimination.
"We're finding a new generation of people at risk who didn't experience losing their loved ones, losing their friends," said James Loduca, an SFAF vice president. "AIDS has always been a preventable disease, and 30 years later, it's still here. But we will see an end to the disease."
The ribbon is made of 15,000 square feet of plastic tarp and is held in place by 400 stakes. It should be visible from the East Bay on a clear day.
"Like an aging movie star, it's going to look better from a distance," said Patrick Carney, who helped with the project.