Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton kicked off a statewide campaign in honor of World AIDS Day, reminding people to get checked and know their status when it comes to HIV/AIDS by placing a large banner on the side of City Hall.

The banner, with a red ribbon, will be displayed on the building until World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Close to 300 similar banners will be displayed on buildings across the state.

“We added a little color to our City Hall, a beautiful red ribbon that is about four stories tall,” Stanton said during a press conference Monday. “We want to take advantage of our high-profile location and our high-profile building to do some important public education on the issue of AIDS and HIV.”

Stanton said World AIDS Day was started to create awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education about HIV/AIDS and celebrate those who’ve lost their lives to the disease. More than 15,000 people in Arizona are living with the disease, Stanton said, and 40 percent of them don’t know their status.

“There is no shame in being tested,” he said. “People need to know the facts of protecting themselves and others from HIV.”

The issue is a personal one for Stanton and his wife, Nicole. Nicole’s brother died of AIDS.

“Her older brother was the first in the family to go to college and served as a mentor to her,” Stanton said. “It’s indescribable how important he was as a leader and mentor in her life. I know I speak for Nicole in this regard when I say the leadership she has provided on this issue comes from the heart. She understands the impact this disease has on families.”

Details on the campaign and resources for those wanting to know more about HIV can be found on HIVAZ.org. The website contains information on low-cost or no-cost places to be tested and provides resources for those recently diagnosed.

HIVAZ.org is provided by Aunt Rita’s Foundation, a group dedicated to promoting public awareness of HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit www.auntritas.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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