Florence’s AIDSWalk raises awareness about HIV
FLORENCE, S.C. — An estimated 1.1 million Americans live with HIV and yet one out of seven don’t know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hundreds of Pee Dee residents gathered Saturday for World AIDS Day at Central United Methodist Church to raise awareness for HIV during the 21st annual AIDSWalk, put on by HopeHealth.
HopeHealth commemorated World AIDS Day with a lunch program featuring a survivor of HIV before holding the annual awareness walk around noon.
Tiffany Straus, director of community relations for HopeHealth, said she was pleased with the turnout despite the threat of rain.
“Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day,” Straus said. “We do this in order to raise awareness and fight the stigma within the region. We get together every year so that we can bring a survivor so that we can share a story and offer encouragement for those families and people that are struggling with the disease and for other survivors as well.”
Straus said the theme for this year’s event was “Peace, Love and Hope.”
“We think it’s so fitting, firstly because we’re HopeHealth and, secondly, because we want to provide peace, love and hope to everybody that is either affected or infected by the disease,” Straus said.
Straus said attendees were taught about prevention and were given education about HIV testing.
“Something that our guest speaker said today was that ‘most people don’t realize that they know someone that has been infected by HIV,’” Straus said. “If we will all educate ourselves just a little bit, we will be able to fight the stigma and know that there is a great way to receive care so that people who are affected by this can have a good quality of life.”
For more information, visit hope-health.org.