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Candlelight Memorial Service to observe World AIDS Day December 5

In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, Rural AIDS Action Network and First Congregational Church in Alexandria will host a Candlelight Memorial Service.

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The event is Thursday, December 5 at 6:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church. A light dinner of soup and bread will be served at 5:30 p.m.

This year is the 25th annual observance of World AIDS Day, which is held to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate solidarity in the face of the pandemic that afflicts millions around the world.

The day was initiated by health ministers from around the world who called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater awareness of HIV/AIDS on an international scale.

According to World Health Organization estimates, 35.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with about 2.3 million that became infected last year.

An estimated 7,516 people are reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Minnesota, and an average of 300 new infections are diagnosed each year.

“One of the most important steps in reducing infection rates and for preventing the spread of HIV is for people to get tested,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota commissioner of health. “Research has shown that early diagnosis and getting infected individuals into treatment and care can prevent the spread of HIV.”

World AIDS Day has been held annually since 1988 under the sponsorship of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and recently through the World AIDS Campaign.

More than 200 countries worldwide annually observe World AIDS Day.

To RSVP to the candlelight service or for information, e-mail or call (320) 209-1181.