Today (Dec. 1) is World AIDS Day, a tradition that began in 1988.
The idea behind the day is to commemorate the ongoing battle against the disease that has claimed untold lives, and bolster support and awareness for those living with HIV. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1,148,200 people in the United States are living with HIV. And the World Health Organization reports there were 35.3 million people living with HIV worldwide in 2012.
â??World AIDS Day is a day when the world comes together to renew everyoneâ??s commitment to the fight against AIDS, and also to remember those that weâ??ve lost to the disease,â?? said Michael Timcisko, executive director of the Panhandle Aids Support Organization.
PASO, along with several religious and community leaders, organized an interfaith service to recognize those affected by HIV, and those who have died from it.
An excerpt from the service litany:
"On this World AIDS Day - and every day - we are people of many faiths, but united in our love of all humanity. So we raise our hopes and prayers, placing our trust in the universal spirit of love that joins us, and recommitting our own compassion, healing and courage in our common cause to stop AIDS. In the name of all that is holy and good. Amen."
PASO serves 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle, offering financial assistance for medication, transportation, housing, and other expenses, along with other services like education, counseling, and helping people find other resources.
This year, theyâ??ve seen a record number of clients, the highest in their 26-year history.
â??We currently take care of 280 individuals, but that is in no way reflective of the number of people in the Texas Panhandle that may be HIV-positive or have a diagnosis of AIDS,â?? said Timcisko.
If youâ??d like to learn more about AIDS, World AIDS Day, or PASO, follow the links attached to this story.