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Selma joins World AIDS Day

Selma joined communities around the world Monday to remember victims of AIDS and to encourage each other to fight the spread of the disease.

At least two public ceremonies were held as part of World AIDS Day, the first that morning at the Dallas County Health Department.

An evening service began at Temple Gate Seventh Day Adventist Church. A march to the steps of Tabernacle of Praise Church and candlelight vigil followed.

World AIDS Day began as an international observance in 1988 and has been celebrated on Dec. 1 each year since.

Currently, more than 750,000 Americans have positively tested for HIV, and an additional 250,000 have the virus but don’t know.

Despite its common place in society, a scary fact for 22-year-old Justin Davis was that he couldn’t recall anyone he personally knew with the disease.

“Contrary to a lot of popular beliefs, people think you can look at someone and tell when they have it, and that’s not really the case,” Davis said. “Anyone could have it, and because a lot of times people don’t get tested, they don’t know. A lot of people who know they have it might not say anything because they feel they’ll be isolated by their peers.”

People released red and white balloons at Temple Gate, representing loved ones who had died from AIDS.

The Rev. Wayne Hewlett, pastor of Temple Gate, said white crosses to memorialize people who have died in Dallas County will be planted outside the church.

He believes churches should get more actively involved in fighting the spread of the disease.

“The only way you’re going to do that is working outside the four walls, leaving the pews behind and putting behind and putting on the tennis shoes and getting involved directly,” Hewlett said.