WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Dab is one of more than 20,000 attendees at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. this week. He's walking around with ambassadors of hope -- volunteers doing HIV/AIDS outreach -- not alongside them, but nestled in their arms.
Dab is a teddy bear, a reminder that compassion, love and a little whimsy are an important part of dealing with HIV.
Dab is the face of the Dab The AIDS Bear Project, a community-based organization started by Dab Garner during the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
Garner's best friend had been quarantined for HIV/AIDS. To comfort him, Garner bought him a bear to keep him company.
Later, he started giving his friends personalized bears, said Eric Hill, an ambassador of hope volunteer with the AIDS Bear Project.
Since then, Dab the Bear has comforted men, women and children all over the world.
Video of DAb Garner speaking about Dab The AIDS Bear Project:
UPDATE: A comment from Dab Garner: Thanks for writing about Dab the AIDS Bear at the International AIDS Conference and including the clip of me speaking last year on the 30th anniversary of HIV and AIDS. Dab the AIDS Bear started as a simple act of kindness from one person to another as my best friend and then my first partner died in quarantine in San Francisco Hospital in 1981. After the truly life saving HIV medications became available in 1985, Dab the AIDS Bear has become a symbol of love,compassion and hope for people living with HIV and AIDS. We like to think of it as ending stigma one picture at a time. We currently have over 800,000 pictures taken with people holding Dab the AIDS Bear in support of people living with HIV and AIDS around the world. We also do yearly holiday parties for children living with HIV and AIDS called Teddy Bear Touchdowns which are done in memory of my god-daughter, Candace, who lost her battle with AIDS at age 5 in 1989.
People can donate and get their own Dab the AIDS Bear or sponsor a child at one of our Teddy Bear Touchdowns by going to: http://dabtheaidsbearproject.com/donationguide.html and paging to the bottom of the page. Thanks again for the great story about Dab the AIDS Bear and the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC this week. big bear hug, Dab Garner
-- DANIELA HERNANDEZ