Palm Beach County works to prevent spread of HIV infections

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Today is World AIDS Day.

Although progress is being made in diagnosing, treating and preventing the disease, it's still spreading in the community.

About 250 people were newly diagnosed with AIDS in Palm Beach County last year, said Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Palm Beach County Health Department. That's down 17 percent from the previous year, a hopeful sign of progress. The county also reported 314 new HIV cases, down from 321 the previous year.

As of Oct. 31, 7,866 HIV positive people were living in Palm Beach County, according to state health records. It is estimated that this number could actually be 20% greater.

Keep the progress going. Educate yourself. Get tested if you're unsure of your status. Remember loved ones who have lost their lives to the disease. There are a number of notable ways to do so.

Thursday, Dec. 1

Focus on a cure: Scripps Florida will kick off its 2011-2012 season's lecture series, "The Front Lines of Hope," on Thursday, Dec. 1 with an address by Susana Valente, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Infectology. She'll speak about the challenges and new approaches to fighting HIV infection.

The lecture tickets are available by invitation only, as seating is limited. To request an invitation or further information on the 2011-2012 Front Lines of Hope program, call (561) 228-2084 or email Philanthropy-Florida@scripps.edu.

Take stock of progress and challenges in prevention: The Palm Beach County Health Department will commemorate the day, with speeches from Marlinda Jefferson, Ph.D., Director, Minority Development & Empowerment, Inc.; Julie Swindler, LCSW, CEO, Families First of Palm Beach County, Inc., and Linda Warren, Health Education, Palm Beach County Health Department.

The commemoration, open to the public, begins at 10 am and takes place at the Palm Beach County Health Department, 800 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach in the Auditorium.

Get informed, remember what's been lost:In downtown West Palm Beach, there will be an AIDS awareness event at Clematis By Night from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. Call 561-671-4191 for more information.

In Lake Worth, at Compass, 201 N. Dixie Hwy., there will be a ceremony to mark the opening of an AIDS Memorial Quilt display, and a Voices of Pride performance. It runs from 6 pm - 8:30 pm. For more information call (561) 533-9699.

Also in Lake Worth, there will be a Friendship Festival, featuring HIV education, testing, DJ and dancing. It's sponsored by the Comprehensive AIDS Program (CAP). It will be at the Golden Cab taxi stand, Lake Worth Rd., just east of A Street, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact: (561) 472-2466, Yolanda De Venanzi for information.

In Belle Glade, the Department of Health will host a World AIDS Day luncheon at Saint John First Baptist Church, 600 Southwest 8th Street from noon to 2:00 pm. Tickets are $10.00.

Also in Belle Glade, there will be a candle light ceremony and AIDS walk beginning at 5:30 pm in front of the City Hall (water department) at 110 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd West. The walk will travel to Dolly Hand Cultural Art Center at 1977 College Drive. The center is displaying an AIDS memorial quilt. (Bring flashlights)

Finally, at the 45th Street Flea Market from 2 pm to 6 pm on Dec. 1, the Families First of Palm Beach County group will hold a World AIDS Day Awareness Event. Call 561-721-2887 for more information.

Get tested: World AIDS Day Palm Beach: HIV Testing Events - Call for additional information or specific times. Dec. 1 Families First of Palm Beach County (TOPWA)Test Location: 45th Street Flea Market, West Palm BeachContact: (561) 721-2887Time: 2 pm - 6 pm

Minority Development & Empowerment Inc. (MDEI)Test Location: Lake Worth Drive-In and Swap Shop, 3438 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth 33461Contact: (561) 215-2907Time: 9 am - 12 pm

Drug Abuse Treatment Association (DATA)Test Location: 1720 E. Tiffany Dr., Ste. 102, Mangonia Park 33407Contact: (561) 844-3556Time: 9 am - 5 pm

Minority Development & Empowerment Inc. (MDEI)Test Location: Lynn University at Student Services, 3601 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton 33431Contact: (561) 215-2907Time: 11 am - 2 pm

Comprehensive AIDS Program (CAP)Test Location: Guatemalan Maya Center, 110 N. F St., Lake Worth 33460Contact: (561) 472-2466, Yolanda De VenanziTime: 11 am - 6 pm

United Deliverance Community Resource Center, Inc. (UDCRC)Test Location: Harley-Davidson Showroom, 2955 45th Street, West Palm Beach 33407Contact: (561) 844-7071Time: 6 pm - 9 pm

Dec. 3 Test Location: Barracuda Bay, Riviera Beach 33404Contact: (561) 844-7071Time: 10 am - 3 pm

More events:In Belle Glade on Sat. Dec. 3 from 10 am to 5 pm there will be a Mothers/Daughters Tea Party - An educational workshop discussing challenges and successes of women living with HIV. Refreshments provided. The event will be at Planned Parenthood/Teen Time, 6 Everglades Street, Belle Glade, 33430. Contact: Brenda Thomas at (561) 993-9001

On the Treasuer Coast:

Free HIV testing from 10 a.m. to

1 p.m. at Pettway Grocery on SW Dixie Highway in Hobe Sound.

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