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waids_banWorld AIDS Day, which raises awareness worldwide of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, is observed every year on December 1. The first World AIDS Day was observed 25 years ago and was promoted worldwide by the organization that is now the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Since then, countries all over the world observed this day to highlight this health issue, in the hope that public education can slow or even stop new HIV infections. This day is also used to remember those who have died from AIDS (over 25 million worldwide between 1981 and 2007).

There are many events commemorating World AIDS Day across south and central Florida. Below is a listing of a few such events.

waids_1Miami

Two events occur in Miami. First, hundreds of participants will go on a bike ride to commemorate the day. The crowd will be leaving at 8 a.m. on Sunday, December 1, from Bayside Marketplace (401 N. Biscayne Blvd.), with everyone riding down Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne and back again. To RSVP, please call (305) 791-0469. The second event, unrelated to the first, is a solemn church service remembering those who have succumbed to AIDS. It will be held at the gay-affirming Miami Beach Community Church, in the King Memorial Chapel (1620 Drexel Ave.) at 5:30 p.m.

Fort Lauderdale

One of the largest HIV/AIDS remembrance walks in the United States happens right here in south Florida. Broward House, the Pride Center, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the World AIDS Museum all sponsor the World AIDS Day Candlelight Walk and Rally. The lineup starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 1 in Hagen Park (2020 Wilton Dr.). The walk starts 30 minutes later, culminating in a rally at 7:45 at the Pride Center at Equality Park (2040 Dixie Hwy.). Be sure to notice the businesses along Wilton Drive dressing up their storefronts and “turning the Drive red”!

Palm Beach County

Palm Beach County is host to two different events. The first is hosted by Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Palm Beach County. On Sunday, December 1, the National AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., accompanied by a calling of names of those who have passed. At 7:30 p.m. a candlelight vigil will proceed from Compass (201 N. Dixie Hwy., Lake Worth) to the Lake Worth City Hall and back again. The second is the “Show You Care” Midnight Walk for AIDS, which starts at 9 p.m. at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in downtown West Palm Beach. The walk leads to Aura Nightclub (114 S. Narcissus Ave., West Palm Beach), where free condoms will be distributed starting at midnight.

Orlando

There will be two events going on in metro Orlando. The first is the World AIDS Day Celebration of Life, hosted by the Lake County Health Department. This event starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. on Monday, December 2, at Clermont Waterfront Park (330 Third St., Clermont). In addition to vendors and rapid HIV testing, a portion of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display. The second is hosted by Joy MCC (2351 S. Ferncreek Ave.) and is a free showing of the film Still Around, a collection of 15 shorts involving people living with HIV/AIDS. That will be held on Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m.

Tampa

There will be two events going on in Tampa. The first is the Santa Speedo Run Tampa Bay. Strip down to a red Speedo and a Santa hat and run to raise money for the HIV/AIDS organization AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP). The one-mile run will occur on Sunday, December 1 at Centennial Park in Ybor City. Runner check-in and registration starts at 1 p.m. and costs $35. The second is the World AIDS Day Film Program, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Muvico 20 in Centro Ybor. Tickets are $10 (discounted $2 more if you donate a canned good for ASAP or an unwrapped toy for Metro Wellness Centers). The movies being shown are the drama Stigma and the documentary Keep The Promise: The Global Fight Against AIDS.

St. Petersburg

There will be a World AIDS Day prayer breakfast, sponsored by the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, on Saturday, November 30, starting at 9 a.m. at the Suncoast Hospice South Service Center (3050 1st Ave. S.). The breakfast is free, but please call ahead so there can be an accurate head count. To reserve a seat, call Robyn Richards at (727) 328-3260.

Sarasota

The gay-affirming Church of the Trinity MCC, located at 7225 Lockwood Ridge Rd. in Sarasota, will be holding a World AIDS Day remembrance vigil starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, December 1. Sponsored by GAIN, the Gulf Coast Affirming Interfaith Network, the ceremony will include musical performances by Diversity, The Voice of Sarasota, and The Interfaith Festival Choir.

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