Durham to mark World AIDS Day Thursday

From staff reportsNovember 27, 2012 

— Organizations from throughout Durham will gather Thursday evening for the community’s annual World AIDS Day event.

This year’s event, hosted by the Partnership for a Healthy Durham, will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hayti Heritage Center, at 804 Old Fayetteville St. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Durham County has the fourth highest rate of HIV (29.9 per 100,000) among North Carolina’s counties. Over the last five years, Durham’s HIV rates have remained stable. At the close of 2011, there were 1,467 residents living with HIV.

Those attending the event are encouraged to bring canned goods and nonperishable food items, which will benefit the food pantries of the Alliance of AIDS Services–Carolina and CAARE, Inc.

Festivities will include performances from the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble, jazz vocalist Noah Powell, spoken word artist Wisdom Pharaoh, Tony Johnson and the Bolero Latin Theater Company, with Patricia Bartlett, from the Duke University AIDS Research and Treatment Center delivering the keynote address.

The event will also feature an official presentation of the 2012 World AIDS Day Quilt, a lighting ceremony, and testimonials.

Food and refreshments will be provided during the event, as well as free HIV and syphilis testing.

World AIDS Day is observed internationally Dec. 1. An estimated 33.3 million people have HIV, according to the event website, worldaidsday.org. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

“World AIDS Day allows us to gather and raise awareness, honor those who have passed and celebrate accomplishments in treatment and prevention,” said Monica Curry, public health education specialist with the Durham County Department of Public Health.

“As public health professionals, we are committed to raising awareness, advocating and finding a cure, but the community is the most important part of the fight against HIV/AIDS,” she said. “The community has a powerful voice and can influence decisions related to research and work with elected officials to advocate for more prevention and better care for people living with HIV.”

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