SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Piedmont Care held a celebration and remembrance ceremony Saturday for World AIDS Day at Spartanburg Methodist College.
Songs and prayers were shared as families told stories about their loved ones who died from AIDS or HIV.
“Piedmont Care had to create that space for people and has to create this friendly, non-threatening, non-judgemental environment, so we can keep having these conversations about HIV,” said Executive Director Tracey Jackson.
Jackson said Piedmont Care has brought hope to nearly 1,600 HIV and AIDS positive members of our community over the last 25 years.
“It’s not a death sentence anymore,” Jackson said.
Phillip Hudson, a volunteer of Piedmont Care, said he remembers a time when there weren’t support groups for the virus.
“In the beginning, there was so much shame, so much hiding,” Hudson told 7 News.
Hudson was part of the first wave to create a space for people living with AIDS and HIV in the Upstate. He said for many of those people it was too late.
“All of those people, they all did die,” Hudson told 7 News.
In their memory, Hudson, along with two other volunteers, sponsored bringing a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Spartanburg this year. It was displayed at Spartanburg Methodist College.
“The quilt to me symbolizes hope and life,” he said.
The section of the quilt that was borrowed was the section that Spartanburg contributed. Jackson said it was finished in 2011 and she hand-delivered it to Washington D.C.
“This is the first time that people have seen our panel attached to the AIDS quilt,” she said.
Many people at the event hope there will come a day when no more panels will need to be added.
“We can eradicate this disease and we are close,” Hudson told 7 News.
The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day was Communities Make a Difference. To learn how you can make a difference, click here.