Observed worldwide on Dec. 1 since 1998, World AIDS Day is the moment when millions of people come together to commemorate those who have lost their lives to HIV, applaud progress made in responding to the epidemic and recommit to eradicating the disease.
The theme of World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to Zero,’ which refers to the United Nations’ vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. East Tennessee is far from achieving the zero goal. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, last year (2012), Knoxville and the East Tennessee region saw nine AIDS related deaths and 70 newly diagnosed HIV infections.
A World AIDS Day tribute will take place Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair Park, 525 Henley Street, and will include music, skits, recognitions, light refreshments and a candlelight vigil in memory of those who have lost their lives to AIDS. Dr. Charles Ely, one of the first doctors in Knoxville to provide medical care to AIDS patients, will serve as the keynote speaker Dr. Ely’s continuing compassionate care to those infected with HIV makes him beloved by many in the community. Rev. Dr. John A. Butler will receive the Outstanding Person Award at the ceremony. The presiding elder of the Knoxville District AME Zion Church and the Pastor at Clinton Chapel, Rev. Butler is being recognized for raising HIV awareness and activism through faith-based initiatives.
A Faithwalk will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. in downtown Knoxville. Beginning with registration at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 414 W. Vine Ave., walkers will follow a 1.75 mile route through Market Square to First Baptist Church. The fundraiser is sponsored by Samaritan Ministry to end stigma, raise awareness and show love to those affected by HIV in our community. Proceeds will support local organizations including Samaritan Ministry, National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS and Knox County Lions Charities. To register to walk, visit www.samaritancentral.org.
Events Commemorating World AIDS Day:
• Monday, Nov. 25 – Free, confidential HIV testing, University of Tennessee Hodges Library, 1015 Volunteer Blvd., 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., sponsored by the Knox County Health Dept. and Lambda Student Union
• Sunday, Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Program, Holiday Inn World’s Fair, 525 Henley St., 7 p.m.
• Monday, Dec. 2 – Free, confidential HIV screening, Pellissippi State Community College, 10915 Hardin Valley Rd., 10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., sponsored by Helen Ross McNabb Center and Samaritan Ministry
• Wednesday, Dec. 4 – Free, confidential HIV testing, Carousel II, 1501 White Ave., 10 p.m. -12:00 a.m., sponsored by the Knox County Health Department
• Wednesday, Dec. 4 – Free, confidential HIV testing, The Edge, 7211 Kingston Pike, 10:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., sponsored by Helen Ross McNabb Center
• Thursday, Dec. 5 – Free, confidential HIV testing, XYZ Club, 1215 N. Central St., 10:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., sponsored by Helen Ross McNabb Center
• Saturday, Dec. 7 – Faithwalk, 1:00 p.m. registration, 2:00 p.m. brief program at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 414 W. Vine Ave. then Walk to First Baptist Church, sponsored by Samaritan Ministry, $25 donation
Planning and sponsorship for World AIDS Day events are provided by Carousel II, Club XYZ, East Tennessee HIV Planning Council, The Edge, FAITH Coalition, Helen Ross McNabb Center, Knox County Health Department, Knoxville CARES, Lambda Student Union, MAC AIDS Fund, Pellissippi State Community College, Planned Parenthood of Middle & East Tennessee, Samaritan Ministry, and Walgreens.