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Selma to recognize World AIDS Day Dec. 1

More than 33.2 million people in the world live with HIV or AIDS. About 2.3 million of those people are children.

These are numbers the public needs to remember, said Emma Mack, one of the organzizers of Selma’s observance of World AIDS Day, Monday, Dec. 1.

“AIDS is an epidemic,” Mack said.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a serious (often fatal) disease of the immune system transmitted through blood products especially by sexual contact or contaminated needles.

To recognize the people living with and to remember those who have died of AIDS, an observance is set for 4 p.m. Monday, beginning at the Temple Gate Church.

Mack said about 200 white crosses will stand in a vacant lot as a reminder of the deaths from AIDS from 1985 through 1986.

Most of those participating in the vigil will wear a red ribbon. The red ribbon is an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.

Mayor George Evans said he would read a proclamation issued by the city to recognize World AIDS Day.

Dr. David Satcher, former Surgeon General, said the spread of AIDS among blacks and Latinos is a “public health emergency.”

Mack echoed those sentiments, saying the community needs to get ahead of the epidemic. “You cannot govern the cemetery, because it is already done,” she said.

One of the key points to prevention is education — a reason the Dallas County Health Department is the site of a free luncheon, beginning at 11 a.m. Monday.

People need to know that AIDS can affect anyone, regardless of sexual preference, color, class or age.

“It’s a killer,” Mack said, urging people to participate in Monday’s events and to learn more about the way AIDS is contracted, spread and how to survive the epidemic.