World AIDS Day . Candlelight Vigil . Whitman Walker Clinic . Administrative Building . 1407 S Street, NW . WDC . 1 December 2005
Billy Cox, Chair, Board of Directors
Elvert Xavier Barnes Photography
World AIDS Day 2005
Remarks by Billy Cox at Whitman-Walker Clinic vigil
Thank you for coming here tonight to celebrate the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS and to remember those who lost their battle to the epidemic.
I am Billy Cox, chair of the board of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. I have been a volunteer for the Clinic for more than 10 years, because, like you, I want to see us defeat this disease in our lifetimes.
I’d like you to take a moment to just imagine ...
Imagine ... the one in 20 adults around you who has HIV, many of whom don’t even know it.
Imagine ... the one in 50 adults in Washington, DC, who is fighting full-blown AIDS.
Imagine ... your friends, family, and the thousands of people who no longer are with us because of this disease.
Imagine .. more of your friends and family leaving us because of AIDS.
Imagine ... the fact that you are living in the world’s richest nation, and in its capital city, right in the shadow of Congress and the White House – and we still don’t have this disease under control.
Imagine ... a solid commitment by our federal government to provide medical support for those who can’t afford it – and the dedication of our federal government to develop a vaccine.
Imagine ... the passage by Congress of a needle exchange program, which will save many lives.
Imagine ... the support of the White House to promote the use of condoms, rather than funding an abstinence-only program, which clearly doesn’t work.
Imagine ... the passage by Congress of the Ryan White reauthorization act, not only to help rural communities, but also to extend its funding to major cities such as Washington, where the need is so great.
Imagine .. the continued dedication by our city leaders to grasp the urgency of the need by developing a quicker and more comprehensive response to the epidemic.
Imagine ... the continued devotion of the Clinic staff and volunteers to provide excellent care for those with HIV and AIDS.
Imagine ... many more people stepping up to the plate to donate their time and money to fight this disease.
And finally ... imagine ... hope, and a world without AIDS.
You are probably aware that Whitman-Walker Clinic in 2005 suffered from the crippling effects of one of its most difficult financial years. Through it all, we never stopped providing services to our clients.
We are grateful to the many friends of the Clinic. Council member Jim Graham, who is here with us tonight. Ann Gallant of CareFirst, who is also here with us. We are optimistic that the situation will improve under the leadership of Dr. Gregg Pane at the Department of Health and Marsha Martin at the HIV/AIDS Administration.
And we are grateful to you, to those who’ve gathered here in the cold to help us draw public attention to this epidemic.
I promise to you ... We will never give up.
Now, it is a pleasure to introduce Dr. James Morgan, interim minister of the Universalist National Memorial Church here in DC.