Sue Reid, treasure of the Northern AIDS Connection Society, pins a ribbon on a Christmas tree in the sanctuary at First Baptist Church while board member Sherri Briand looks on. Today is World AIDS Awareness Day and the society is hosting a vigil at First Baptist Church at noon. Darrell Cole - Amherst Daily News
AMHERST - The fight against HIV and AIDS continues for those who continue to suffer from the infection as well as members of their family.
That's why it's important for the community to come together to honour those who have passed before their time and to honour those who continue to deal with HIV and AIDS on a daily basis.
The Northern AIDS Connection Society will be commemorating World AIDS Awareness Day with a vigil at First Baptist Church in Amherst today at noon.
"The day is one in which we honour everyone who has fought the fight against HIV and AIDS. That includes those who have died from the disease, those who are fighting the disease and their families, friends and loved ones," Debbie Currie, president of the society said.
This is World AIDS Awareness Week with this being the 22nd World AIDS Day. There has been a theme each year since the first day in 1988 with this year's being Universal Access to Treatment and Human Rights.
While more is known about AIDS today than in the 1980s when the disease first gained headlines, there are still many stigmas and stereotypes associated with AIDS. Currie said there's much more understanding of HIV and AIDS, but there's still a long way to go before things like universal access is secured as well as enforcing human rights.
For example, she added, there are many countries where treatment for HIV is not offered.
At the same time there are many rumours out there.
"Propaganda regarding immunization to prevent and treat AIDS is just that," she said. "There is no cure for AIDS, although there are more treatment options. That usually includes people taking 18-30 pills a day."
Today's ceremony will include four pieces of the original AIDS quilt that was put together more than 20 years ago as a memorial to those touched by the disease.
There are currently 71,000 Canadians living with HIV or AIDS. Worldwide estimates for 2007 indicated there are 32.2 million people living with the disease, 2.5 million of which are children.