Rock the Ribbon

Published 7:23 pm Friday, November 27, 2020

While in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a local sorority is highlighting a different disease that is still relevant.

Suffolk Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. is observing World AIDS Day from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 1, on its Facebook page. Every year, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority internationally recognizes World AIDS Day for one of its international awareness and involvement programs.

World AIDS Day takes place on Dec. 1 each year to unite people in the fight against HIV, support people living with HIV, and remember those who died from AIDS-related illnesses. The day founded in 1988 and was the first global health day.

“It’s not a public holiday, but we recognize it to raise awareness and remember those who have died,” said Belinda Pitts, the second vice president of the Suffolk Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

The theme this year is “Rock the Ribbon End HIV For Global Solidarity and Shared Responsibility.” Everyone is encouraged to wear a red ribbon on Dec. 1 for an easy way to show support. The color red is used to symbolize blood, pain, love and passion.

The sorority has done an illumination at the train station for their World AIDS Day event in past years. This year, it is a virtual Facebook Live event that will still include different speakers like Lakeisha Harris from the LGBT Life Center and Dr. Tanya Kearney from EVMS AIDS/HIV Resource Center. At the end, Suffolk Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. will still light their own luminary at home in recognition of those who are fighting and have their battle with AIDS-related illnesses.

“We just want people to watch and be aware,” said Pitts. “It’s important to get tested, and you can at the LGBT Life Center, or go to your primary physician who can refer you somewhere to get it done. What’s most important is knowing your status. Many have died because of finding out their status too late. We know a lot more now than we did at the start, and we don’t have to lose as many as we have. It’s due to a lack of education and knowledge.”

The sorority is also receiving donations of toiletries for the LGBT Life Center in Norfolk. The LGBT Life Center helps with mental illness, HIV testing, housing and promotes wellness. Donations can be dropped off from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 28, at Nansemond River High School, 3301 Nansemond Parkway, or directly at the center anytime at 248 W. 24th St.

“We also want to remind the public that this disease has not gone away, and let them know it’s still possible to contract it,” said Pitts.