The Sampson County HIV/AIDS Task Force is showing support for a disease which effects millions of people each year.
Worlds AIDS Day is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, on the courthouse steps, 101 Main St., Clinton. Its purpose is for community members to unite and show support for individuals living with the disease. The event will coincide with the Christmas in the City, an annual tradition featuring a tree lighting, carriage rides, inflatable slide for children, live music and a visit from Santa Claus.
World AIDS Day is held on Dec. 1 each year and Clinton’s Christmas in the City takes place on the first Thursday of December. It’s the first ever global health day and was held in 1988.
“World AIDS Day just happened to fall on that first Thursday,” said Thomas McLaughlin Jr., task force chairman. “So we’re having both of them at the same time.”
The campaign theme is “HIV: Not Retro, Just Wrong.” According to officials, being diagnosed today is a lot
This year, McLaughlin is looking forward to having a larger crowd at the event because of the holiday event. The length of the service is expected to be between 35 and 45 minutes.
McLaughlin said it’s important for people to know what’s going on and to learn about new issues. As a survivor of the disease, he and other Task Force members spread awareness. McLaughlin does not want people to give up.
“Things are changing every day when it comes to this disease,” he said. “Every ones needs an update.”
The campaign theme for 2016 is “HIV: Not Retro, Just Wrong.” According to officials, being diagnosed today is different than 20 or 30 years ago.
“HIV is no longer a death sentence,” officials stated on www.worldaidsday.org “However, people’s attitudes can make living with HIV really hard. Some things from the 1980s and 1990 are worth revisiting, but HIV stigma isn’t one of them. It’s time to end HIV stigma.”
During the Dec. 1 event, participants will speak about AIDS, sing together and light candles. A guest speaker, CommWell Health client, is scheduled to speak. Each year, the medical organization partners with the Sampson County HIV/AIDS Task Force.
“He’s going to tell his story about his journey with HIV,” he said.
AIDS weakens the immune system and gradually destroys the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. It’s caused by HIV, which is often spread through sexual contact; contaminated needles or syringes from drug use; infected blood or blood products; and from infected mothers feeding babies through breast-feeding.
According to www.aids.gov, more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. From the group, 1 in 8 are unaware. Over the last decade, the annual number of new HIV cases dropped by 19 percent.
Statistics from the World Health Organization shows that 70 million people globally have been infected with the HIV virus and 35 million have died.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.