HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The AIDS Service Coalition of Hattiesburg held their annual Service of Remembrance and Healing to remember those who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
"The Service of Remembrance and Healing is something that we do every year as a part of our tribute to World AIDS Day," Executive Director of ASC Kathy Garner said. "It is an opportunity for us to remember those that have been lost. We do it in a church, in the presence of a piece of the memorial AIDS quilt which represents 97,000 names of people who have been lost to this disease."
Garner said this is the first year that people from Hattiesburg were added to the quilt.
She says the names on the panel hanging up in Trinity Episcopal Church will be attached to the larger quilt which will then be sent around the world.
Garner said the goal is to teach people about HIV and to break stigma surrounding the disease.
"I know some of those people on there, and I know they would be thrilled to travel around the world and help people understand more about their illness," Garner said.
The service was filled with love and prayer as people from all backgrounds came together in solidarity against HIV/AIDS.
The night came to an end with candles lit to remember those who lost their fight to the deadly illness.
"Whenever we are together and whenever we show love, God is present and God is active through our actions," Associate Director at Trinity Episcopal Church said.
According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, by the end of 2015, almost 1.1 million people in the US were living with HIV. About one in seven of those people didn't know they were infected.
Last year, nearly 40,000 people were diagnosed with HIV.
To view more statistics about HIV/AIDS, click the following link.