SAN JOSE -- World AIDS Day holds a unique meaning for many different people. For some, it's a day to remember loved ones lost to the disease. For others, it's a day to educate the public.
On Friday, a solemn gathering at the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center in San Jose honored the memory of those lost.
Eddie Green was diagnosed with HIV when he was just 22 years old. He says that, at the time, his doctor told him he had only months to live.
"It was overwhelming but I did what I think a lot of people did in the early 80s. I went home and cried," Green recalls.
Green lost three partners to the disease and countless friends during the height of the crisis. That's why, every year on World AIDS Day, he makes a point to honor their memories and his own journey.
"To be standing here today in really good health. My T cells are undetectable. My viral load is 1700. My doctor says I'm a miracle for people living with HIV. So It's important to remember everyone that has passed away and also the people who are living positive here still today," Green said.
This year Green spent part of the day at the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Community Center. To mark World AIDS Day, the center displayed several panels from the National AIDS Memorial Quilt representing local people whose lives were lost.
Gabrielle Antolovich is the center's board president. She says the quilt has been one of the most effective tools in teaching younger generations about the AIDS crisis.
"That's what woke up a lot of the young people. They didn't realize the impact of that. So, because they're young, they're now googling more of the history," Antolovich said.
Green too is passing down his experience and knowledge to the next generation. He runs a local support group for those living with HIV.
He said that days like this are special because they give him the chance to honor his loved ones but also be there for others, all with a dash of holiday cheer.
"Today is a serious day but I've always been a Christmas lover and I just think, you know, showing the happiness and cheer and positive energy in life is what gets us positive people through it. So celebrate life, celebrate this," Green said.
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