Vigil to bring awareness for HIV, AIDS | SteamboatToday.com

Vigil to bring awareness for HIV, AIDS

Meredith Geldmeier

— On Dec. 1, the White House lights will dim in remembrance of the millions worldwide infected with HIV. World AIDS Day is an international day of remembrance for the victims of the disease and has been annually observed since 1988. Locally, the Visiting Nurse Association and Planned Parenthood have scheduled a World AIDS Day candlelight vigil at 5:30 p.m. Friday on the Routt County Courthouse lawn.

The brief ceremony will include a guitarist, red ribbons, an inspirational speaker and a moment of silence. The event was scheduled a day early to increase the attendance and raise awareness beforehand, giving people the opportunity to reflect and wear their ribbons on Dec. 1. Similar ceremonies will unite communities internationally in their resolution to fight HIV and AIDS and remember those who suffer with or have died from the disease.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2001 is “I Care.Do You? Youth and AIDS in the 21st Century.”

“It’s really affecting the young population,” said Kate Clement of Planned Parenthood. “It’s definitely something we think about daily.”

Statistics from the American Association for World Health show that 50 percent of all new AIDS infections occur in people younger than 25. Currently, the disease affects the lives of 10 million people ages 15 to 25. Five young people contract HIV every minute.

“It’s pretty serious,” Clement said.

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Alarmingly, many young people in the United States and the world remain ignorant of the danger of high-risk activity. The VNA encourages protected sex and HIV and AIDS education. The group also provides educational literature on HIV and AIDS and offers various methods of prevention.

Locally, unprotected sex is the highest HIV risk factor. Kay Borvansky of the VNA emphasized the importance of protected sex.

“There are always young people who think they are 10 feet tall and bulletproof,” Borvansky said.

However, AIDS affects one in every 100 adults worldwide and is considered a national security threat.

For more information on HIV and AIDS, call the VNA at 879-1632. Anonymous calls are accepted. For HIV testing, call Planned Parenthood at 879-2212.