LAURINBURG — The HIV Education and Resource Team of Scotland County and the Borderbelt AIDS Resources Team are sponsoring a World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil today from 5 :30 to 7:00 pm.
The goal of the vigil is to raise awareness of the impact HIV is having on the community and the fact that the number of people living with the disease has increased significantly, according to Kathie Cox, public information officer for the Scotland County Health Department.
There have been 207 individual cases of HIV infection in Scotland County from 1983 to 2014. As of Dec. 31, 2014, there were 51 people diagnosed and living with AIDS in Scotland County.
“The World AIDS Day is held on Dec. 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died,” Cox said. “World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and was held for the first time in 1988.”
This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero, Zero new infections, Zero AIDS related deaths, and Zero discrimination.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommends people age 13 to 64 get tested for HIV at least once. The Scotland County Health Department offers free HIV testing. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 910- 277-2440.
The Scotland County event will be held at the Scotland County Emergency Operations Center next door to the EMS Department on West Boulevard at the Governmental Complex.
Activities will include music, drama team presentations and a featured speaker and refreshments.
“Scotland County Health Department asks that you please come out and join us for an evening of education, fellowship and remembering those who are living with the disease and those who have passed,” Cox said. “World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.”