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Local group plans vigil for AIDS day

Despite advances in science over the past decade, there is still no known cure for the deadly HIV/AIDS virus.

While efforts to fight the global epidemic have increased, medical studies show that 40 million people worldwide live with the virus and 8,000 deaths occur from it each day.

HIV/AIDS strikes people of any age and is continuing to spread rapidly in many underdeveloped countries.

In an effort to bring an increased awareness about the plight of people suffering from this disease, several local agencies will be observing the fifteenth annual World AIDS Day on Monday.

One local group, Selma AIDS Information and Referral, is marking the day with a program at the Ellwood Community Church at 1703 Selma Avenue.

Beginning at 6 p.m., the Rev. Gary Crum will deliver a message for the event.

Felicia Gill, the education specialist for Selma AIR, said there will also be a candlelight vigil and releasing of balloons in memory of those who lost their lives because of AIDS in Dallas and surrounding counties.

Since its conception in 1988, World AIDS Day aims to make more people realize the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is also about education and reminding people that the virus has not gone away.

The theme this year is &uot;Stigma and Discrimination: Live and Let Live.&uot;

In many parts of the world, discrimination prevents people known to have the disease from finding a secure job or caring for their families. This discrimination can cause patients to shy away from seeking treatment which could prolong their lives.

Here in Dallas County, Selma AIR provides services for those clients who are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus.

Gill said the private non-profit organization offers support groups, transportation and medical assistance.

The American Red Cross of the Black Belt will also be observing World AIDS Day by showing the movie &uot;And the Band Played On&uot; with a discussion afterward.

On Dec. 3, the Reformed Presbyterian Church will host a HIV/AIDS Myths and Facts game from 1 to 3 p.m.

On Nov. 22, Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr. signed a proclamation declaring Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day for the city.

Those who would like to show their support for victims of HIV/AIDS are encouraged to pin a red ribbon to their clothing on this day.