In Paris, a place in tribute to “AIDS fighters”

The AIDS epidemic officially began in 1981, when five mysterious deaths were described in an American medical journal. Forty years and millions of dead later, the City of Paris is preparing to inaugurate a “place for AIDS fighters”, in the heart of the capital. A first in France. “Even in the world, it will be one of the first places to incorporate the word ‘AIDS’ in its name”, rejoices Pierre Batista, the president for Paris of one of the main associations in the fight against HIV, Aides.

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The tribute is not unanimous, however. “A plate is very pretty, comments Antoine Chassagnoux, President of Act Up-Paris. But it would be better to finally create the LGBT archive center that is still lacking in Paris. “ And especially, “To conduct a policy of welcoming migrants which does not lead them to live in the streets, where they are contaminated”, adds Pierre Dauphin, the general secretary of the association.

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In December 2006, Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic, had already inaugurated in the Parc de la Villette (19e arrondissement) a place in memory of those who died from AIDS and all those mobilized against the epidemic. A huge fresco on the ground, signed Fabrice Hyber, costing 1.75 million euros. The visitor walks there in the midst of cells, scientific instruments, sexes, viruses, skulls and skeletons… But this site “Has not quite found its place”, recognizes the Town Hall. Offset, it has not become the great space for gathering and remembering it.

“The city of Europe most affected by the epidemic, along with London”

Jean-Luc Romero-Michel, tireless anti-AIDS activist and deputy mayor PS Anne Hidalgo, therefore set out in search of a new place, in the center of the capital. The project submitted to the next Paris Council, from November 16 to 19, plans to assign the name “place des combatantes et combatants du SIDA” to a portion of the median separating rue de Rivoli and rue Saint-Antoine (4e), in the Marais, one of the historic LGBT + neighborhoods.

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“Paris was the European city most affected by the epidemic, along with London”, underlines Anne Hidalgo in the draft deliberation. It was also in the capital, in 1983, that a team from the Institut Pasteur identified the human immunodeficiency virus as responsible for AIDS, adds the Town Hall. “It is therefore essential to honor those who are dead as well as those who fight, comments Jean-Luc Romero-Michel. I hope that the deliberation will be voted unanimously. “ The inauguration is already scheduled for the 1is December, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, and the blue plaque will be exceptionally adorned with a symbolic red ribbon.

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In Paris, a place in tribute to “AIDS fighters”

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