In observance of World AIDS Day, community groups, advocacy organizations and health officials throughout New Jersey are today holding memorial services, educational presentations and health fairs.
The annual commemoration, which started more than 25 years ago, aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and remember those who have died. This year’s theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.” The state Department of Health has compiled more than 20 events taking place in New Jersey over the next two weeks to mark World AIDS Day.
Buddies of New Jersey, a community group that offers support for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, is sponsoring several events, including a “remembrance service and life celebration” at Christ Episcopal Church in Hackensack at 6 p.m. tonight.
“What we’re trying to do is get as many as possible together so we can talk about our common goal, which is getting back to zero: zero deaths, zero infections and zero stigma,” said Ray Welsh, the events manager for Buddies of New Jersey. “We want to create an atmosphere of knowledge because it seems that a lot of people believe that HIV is over.”
The World Health Organization estimates that at the end of 2013 there were 35 million people worldwide living with HIV. Federal statistics show more than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States. In New Jersey, according to state data, nearly 38,000 people were reported living with HIV or AIDS as of June 30.
Other events being held today, include an observance at city hall in Jersey City at 6 p.m. There is also free HIV testing there from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
At the Mount Zion AME Church community center in Trenton, there is a presentation including a prayer service and HIV testing services being held from noon until 6 p.m.
A memorial service is also planned at the Hispanic Multi-Purpose Service Center in Paterson from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
For a list of other events being held throughout the state in the coming days, visit: http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/aids/events.aspx
You can also find nearby testing services, housing providers, health centers and other service providers by searching by zip code:Find HIV/AIDS Prevention Service Providers
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For more information on this widget, please visit AIDS.gov.
Erin O’Neill may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter NJ.com on Facebook.