December 1 is World AIDS Day

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World AIDS Day, observed on December 1st since 1988, serves as an important day to remind the world that HIV/AIDS is still a serious epidemic and that there is still no cure or vaccine for HIV or AIDS. Events will be held across the state to commemorate the significance of this day through education, remembering those who have died from this disease and increasing general awareness of HIV and AIDS. According to UNAIDS estimates there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide, including more than one million Americans. The CDC estimates that more than 56,300 Americans are newly infected with HIV annually. One out of every 247 people in Delaware is HIV-positive, making the First State one of the top 10 states in the country for per-capita HIV infection.

The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there is still much to be accomplished. During 2008 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35, according to UNAIDS. Around 95% of individuals with HIV and AIDS live in developing nations.

Every 9 minutes another person in the United States becomes infected with HIV. As of September 30, 2009 there were 3,470 Delawareans living with HIV or AIDS. The CDC estimates that 20 to 25 percent of all HIV-positive individuals are unaware of their status. According to CDC recommendations every person age 13 to 64 should be tested for HIV at least once, and people who are at higher risk for infection should be tested annually. Everyone should receive an HIV test before beginning a sexual relationship with a new partner. In recent years there has been an increasing number of people over the age of 50 who have become infected. While this older segment of the population might not be worried about unintended pregnancies they do need to keep themselves educated and protected- just like everyone else. Talk to your doctor about getting tested or visit www.hivtest.org to find a testing site near you. There are many organizations that perform HIV testing for free- so not having the money is not an excuse.

Statewide Events:

In Wilmington AIDS Delaware and the local community will remember those who are living with HIV/AIDS and those who have lost their battle with AIDS during the 2009 World AIDS Day Service – Candlelight Vigil. The Vigil will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2009, 7:30 PM, at a new location, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1502 West 13th Street, Wilmington, DE 19806. Parking is available in the church’s parking lot.

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Wright, Episcopal Bishop will preside over the interdenominational service. Rev. Aaron Cooper, Independent Pastor; Rev. Juan George of Trinity Episcopal Church; Dr. Gregory Jones of Westminster Presbyterian Church; Sister Jean Rupertus of House of Joseph II; Rev. Christopher Simms, Independent Pastor; Mr. Mark Rice, AIDS Delaware Client; Mr. Paul Fleckenstein, Organist; and The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware will participate in the service.

In Dover Kent and Sussex Counseling Services (KSCS) and John Wesley AME Church will be hosting a World AIDS Day service from 6 pm to 7:30 pm on December 1, 2009. All are welcome at the event which will be held at the John Wesley AME Church located at 217 W. Division St. in Dover.

In Rehoboth Beach the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center will host an exhibit of artwork created by George Towne, Greg Mitchell and Richard Rinaldi, artists living with HIV/AIDS, for the entire month of December, with a special reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Dec. 1. Following the reception, the community is invited to gather at the bandstand on Rehoboth Avenue at the boardwalk for a short program at 6:15 p.m., followed by a candle light walk through the downtown area ending at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 18 Olive Ave., with a service of remembrance and hope at approximately 7 p.m. This service includes the reading of the names of persons who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Special music will be provided by the newly formed CAMP Chorus, among others. The service will conclude with a light supper in the fellowship hall next door, courtesy of The Taste of Italy, 33 Baltimore Ave., and the parishioners at All Saints’ Church.

In Milford Faith, Hope and Love Christian Fellowship, located at 218 North Rehoboth Blvd., will host “An Evening of Remembrance: Stop AIDS. Keep The Promise.” This community awareness and educational program will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the church. The community is invited to attend.

The Delaware HIV Consortium would like to thank all of the organizations, businesses, individuals and faith community partners for all of the work they do throughout the year to keep Delawareans healthy and informed about HIV and AIDS. By working together, the citizens of Delaware and everyone across the globe, can overcome the obstacles that keep us from a world free of HIV and AIDS.

The Delaware HIV Consortium is dedicated to eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS and to creating a seamless continuum of care for all people infected and affected in Delaware.