Organized by the AIDS Resource Council, the annual service takes place alongside thousands of others around the world to serve as a reminder to those who have been lost because of HIV and AIDS, and those who are struggling against the disease today.
Keynote speaker the Rev. Beth Sanders was quick to remind the crowd that it isn’t just those with the disease who suffer.
“It’s a human thing. We’re all infected and affected by HIV and AIDS,” she said.
Her speech laid out as a prayer, she pointed out that everyone in a person’s life who has HIV or AIDS is affected, from the children who contract the disease from their mothers in the womb to friends and family and loved ones who are forced to watch victims of the disease suffer.
She ended her prayer with a simple call to an end of the suffering for all.
“May all who suffer because of AIDS find peace, love, hope and joy in you,” she said.
AIDS Resource Council office manager and board member Frank Tant, who filled for President Fred Gann, awarded Gail Andrus the Board Member of the Year award for 2012 and Angie Walters the Volunteer of the Year award. He thanked the duo for their hard work in the organization and for doing their part in helping in the struggle against AIDS.
World AIDS Day first started in the late 1980s with the backing of the International AIDS Society and each year is planned around a common theme. In Rome, this year’s theme was “It’s a Human Thing.”
HIV — or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus — targets the immune system and weakens the ability of the body to fight off infections and cancer. The most advanced stage is AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
As of 2011 the World Health Organization estimates that some 34 million people are infected with HIV worldwide and that 2.5 million people were newly infected with the virus.