World AIDS Day Statement by President-elect Joe Biden

2020 marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the United States, a pandemic that has led to nearly 700,000 lives lost and still no cure four decades later.  This year, our nation struggles through another pandemic -- the fight against Covid-19 – the horrific loss of life has surpassed 270,000 in a matter of months. See the program.

World AIDS Day 2020 – A National Conversation was held December 1, 2020, bringing together powerful voices from both pandemics for an important conversation about health justice, social activism, remembrance, hope and resilience.  

The event spotlights the interconnectedness of both pandemics -- the lives lost, the survivors, the activism, the heroes. Through a distinguished list of guest speakers, panelists, video storytelling, and musical tributes, important insights are shared to help answer the questions about how a nation responds, how it heals, and what lessons must be learned to prepare
for the future.

The forum is presented virtually and can be watched anytime from this web platform.

Keynote Speakers and Recipients of 2020 National Leadership Recognition Award

Through a distinguished list of guest speakers, video storytelling, and musical tributes, the forum allows people to come together and honor the lives lost, the survivors, the activism and the heroes from over the span of four decades and two horrific pandemics.


Award-winning actor and long-time AIDS advocate, Judith Light, hosts the event - see our World AIDS Day Program.

The Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the City of Philadelphia delivered the invocation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
offers a message of hope and honor civil rights activist Congressman John Lewis, a powerful leader for activism and social justice, who passed away earlier this year.

John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial, provides welcoming remarks and presents the National Leadership Recognition Award.

A CONVERSATION: Medical and Scientific Leadership

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci
, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. David D. Ho, Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University are the keynote speakers and are honored with the memorial’s National Leadership Recognition Award. As leading health experts on the front lines of medical and scientific advancements during two global pandemics, they discuss the health, research and long term impacts of HIV/AIDS and Covid-19. ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, moderated the conversation.

A CONVERSATION: Impact on Marginalized Communities

Mayors from cities that have been on the frontlines of both pandemics – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio -- lead a conversation on the impact the two pandemics have had on marginalized communities and how HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 have disproportionately affected communities of color. ABC News Co-Anchor of GMA3, T.J. Holmes, is the moderator.

A CONVERSATION: Activism that Sparks Change and Movements

Activists whose actions have made a difference during both pandemics – Alicia Garza, Principal at Black Futures Lab and Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Cleve Jones, Co-Founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and Kristin Urquiza, Co-Founder of Marked by COVID -- lead a discussion about the ongoing struggle for social justice. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David is the moderator.

A Look to the Future
Surviving voices from the AIDS pandemic come together to offer heartfelt words on how a nation responds, heals, and remembers those lost to both pandemics.

Additional Special Guests and Features include:

Daniel O’Day
, Chairman and CEO, Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Michael J. Gifford, President and CEO, Vivent Health, along with executives from Chevron and Quest Diagnostics, offer messages about their work on HIV/AIDS and Covid-19.

Musical tributes included songwriter Alida McKeon who performed her newly-written song “HOPE” and a beautiful virtual choir performance of “Will I See?,” produced by Kevin Mayes.

The memorial officially unveiled the first-ever virtual exhibition of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that features nearly 10,000 Quilt panels representing all 50 states and U.S. territories, using the power and beauty of the Quilt to help the nation heal during these difficult times.  

Thank you to all our sponsors and individual donors.

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Watch NOW -- this inspiring forum is available to watch

Leaders coming together for a powerful discussion about health, activism, remembrance, and hope.

Keep informed on World AIDS Day 2020
AIDS Quilt Virtual Exhibition

Be part of the first-ever 50 state virtual display. Let the power and beauty of the Quilt help our nation heal during these difficult times. Experience the exhibition.

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Community Partners

AIDS Memorial Pathway • CenterLink - The Community of LGBT Centers • Community Counseling Center • Community Health Center of the Black Hills • Compass Community Center • Congregation Sha'ar Zahav • Fast Track Cities • Foundation for the AIDS Monument • Hill Country Ride for AIDS • Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center • Los Angeles LGBT Center • National Minority AIDS Council • New York City AIDS Memorial • The Center, New York City • Out & Equal Workplace Advocates • San Francisco AIDS Foundation • The Center on Colfax • The Wall / Las Memorias, Los Angeles

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2020 / 40 STORIES

40 years of stories from the pandemic – the lives lost, the heroes, the survivors - see the stories


Be part of the first-ever 50 state AIDS Quilt virtual exhibition and display. Learn more about host and sponsorship opportunities.

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Join the National AIDS Memorial’s 2021 AIDS Walk Team. Help us raise $200,000 to support the Grove, the Quilt, and other programs - donate now

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Our work helps ensure that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story of AIDS is known by future generations -
so that never again will a community be harmed because of fear, silence, discrimination, or stigma.