Jaime Pressly reveals an article in PEOPLE prompted her to recognize symptoms of HIV/AIDS in one of her own, undiagnosed family members

By Christina Dugan
Updated December 02, 2016 10:33 AM
Credit: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Jaime Pressly is sharing one powerful memory.

While speaking at the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and SAG-AFTRA World Aids Day Panel event in Los Angeles this week, the actress opened up about the moment she realized her late uncle Alan had AIDS.

“My uncle Alan was one of the first seven in North Carolina to be diagnosed with AIDS in the ’80s,” Pressly told the crowd. “We found out — they thought he had Hep C — we found out when I was 7 or 8 years old. It was the very first article ever written, I’ll never forget it. My aunt was sitting next to me and we were looking atPEOPLE and she flipped through it and I remember seeing AIDS really big in block letters and then the article, the symptoms.”

Pressly explained that she recognized those symptoms in her own family and that one photo in particular really hit close to home.

“There was a picture of a man who looked just like my uncle Alan who was in a hospital bed dying of Hep C — supposedly,” she shared. “I remember my aunt looking at me and going, ‘Oh my God, my brother is dying.’ We took that magazine to the hospital and that’s how he was diagnosed with AIDS — [based on what we learned in]PEOPLE magazine.”

In an effort to recognize World AIDS Day, Pressly, along with David Arquette, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Neal Baer, M.D., and Chandi Moore joined the panel to discuss the current state of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.

“It’s hard to talk about, but it’s not an individual problem — it’s a mankind problem,” Arquette told PEOPLE before the panel. “Just joining together with other people who are supporting such an amazing cause and shine a light on it.”

The actor, who recently lost his sibling Alexis to complications related to AIDS, added, “It’s very real right now. The whole process throughout has been real to say the least. It’s an honor to come and talk about it.”