Area religious leaders coming together again for World AIDS Day
BY JAMES HARPER
Religious leaders from Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths will again participate in an interfaith service for prayer and healing for those living with HIV/AIDS as Volusia County residents get ready to shine the spotlight on the disease as World AIDS Day approaches Dec. 1.
Our Lady of Lourdes, 1020 North Halifax Ave., Daytona Beach will host the interfaith service again this year. It’s scheduled for Nov. 28 starting at 6 p.m.
There will be prayer and a candle lighting service at the church’s Grotto, said Father Phil Egitto, pastor of the church.
“We then walk to Colin’s Park where Pastor Pete Keirstead from Family Church leads a remembrance service for those whose memories live on in our fight against this disease,” Egitto said.
The Interfaith service will start at 7 p.m. It will be followed by a reception in the chapel sponsored by VITAS.
According to the Volusia County Health Department, Volusia County ranks 10th in the number of HIV/AIDS cases among Florida’s 67 counties.
The health department’s website also reports that there are over 1,400 people living with HIV or AIDS in Volusia and Flagler and “there may be as many as 700 more people infected with HIV, who don’t know it yet.’’
More than 1,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Volusia and Flagler are receiving needed services through federal and state funded programs.
‘Faces of AIDS’
Other World AIDS Day activities taking place in the area include a fundraiser sponsored by the Positive Champions Speakers Bureau.
The bureau is hosting a benefit on Dec. 1 to raise funds to support its mission to end the stigma and community consequences associated with HIV/AIDS.
Jeff Allen, a spokesman for the group, said it will present “The Faces of AIDS” at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Arts and Sciences.
“It will change your perspective of HIV/AIDS in our community and build a bridge of understanding and compassion toward the people who live with HIV on a daily basis,” Allen said.
Tickets are $35 for the play and a dinner. Call Allen at 386-235-6796 or the Health Planning Council at 386-323-2046 for tickets.
“Too often HIV positive people suffer the stigma of HIV/AIDS. On top of handling life-altering news and new health challenges, they sometime face rejection by family and friends when they need them the most,” Allen explained, adding why the fundraiser is important.
“People with HIV/AIDS may be forced out of homes, lose their jobs or even become victims of violence. Help changes that.’’
For more on World AIDS Day and events this month and in December about HIV/AIDS awareness, visit www.worldaidsweekdaytona.com.