SPRINGFIELD — The Gándara Center’s Project Health program will host its 20th annual HIV/AIDS Vigil for the Springfield community today, Oct. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. The vigil begins at the corner of Bancroft and Main streets, where a brief gathering will be followed by a march to the North End Youth Center, which will host bilingual community speakers, poets, jazz singers and other vocal performances, dancing, and more. The event concludes at 8 p.m. with a unity circle.
The Project Health HIV/AIDS vigil was created in 1997 bring HIV/AIDS awareness to the Springfield Latino community and honor those living with the disease. Additionally, October is National Latino HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, and this year AIDS Awareness Day will be celebrated on Sunday, Oct. 15.
“The vigil was really a way to shed light on those who live with these conditions and let them know they aren’t alone,” said Gándara Center’s Project Health Program Director Jesus Aguirre. “HIV is not a death sentence, but it’s about a healthier way of living. The vigil provides awareness and education in the community in hopes of helping to prevent spreading HIV.”
For the past 20 years, Gándara Center’s Project Health program has provided bilingual case-management services for individuals in the Springfield area who are HIV-positive or have AIDS. Case managers help those living with HIV/AIDS to access medical, mental health, and addiction treatment and provide education to maintaining a healthy, positive lifestyle.
This event is free and open to the public; all are welcome to walk in the vigil or participate in the festivities at the North End Youth Center. For additional information about the vigil or Project Health, call Program Director Jesus Aguirre at (413) 732-2120.