BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the 30 years since AIDS and HIV was diagnosed in America, Baltimore has seen its new infection rate climb to be the fifth worst in the country.
But now as Mike Schuh reports, some are looking to fight back in a big way.
On a giant field, 4,000 people willing to wear a red plastic poncho– with some patience and a little direction– are going to do something big.
“Stand up as we create the world’s largest red ribbon,” explained Dr. Marcella Copes, Dean of Nursing at Coppin State University.
“The goal of that is to raise awareness of HIV,” said David Haltiwanger of Chase-Brexton Health Services.
It’s an attempt specifically targeted for Thursday.
“To celebrate and bring attention to HIV for World AIDS Day,” Copes said.
William Mueller: “Letting people be aware of HIV and AIDS.”
Schuh: “Why does it matter to you?”
Mueller: “Why does it matter to me? Because I have it.”
Mueller’s had it for 24 years.
“When I found I had it, I lost the will to live,” he said.
It’s the very first time, in public, he’s ever talked about it.
“I didn’t figure I’d be here this long,” he said.
He says for the past four years, Chase-Brexton Health Services has helped keep him alive. It’s one of the groups making this world record ribbon attempt, hoping people will connect the dots between awareness and action.
“It’s not a magical connection but anything we can do to remind people of the right choices that they need to make,” Haltiwanger said.
Mueller’s choices led to HIV, and 24 years of hope.
“Well, I was told, ‘Never give up,'” he said.
To break the record, they need about 1,000 walk-ups Thursday to wear red ponchos. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the ribbon will form about 11:30 a.m. at Coppin State.
The check-in for the red ribbon will be at the Coppin Athletic Complex on Gwynns Falls Parkway just south of Mondawmin Mall.