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Jacksonville commemorating World AIDS Day with week-long program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – December 1st is World AIDS Day and a local organization is working to help thousands in the Jacksonville area.

Jacksonville is the only community in Florida commemorating the day with a week-long program. Mayor Lenny Curry declared December 1st World AIDS Day in Jacksonville.

Part of the largest art project in the world is hanging in city hall the AIDS Memorial Quilt which can be seen in the rotunda. Jacksonville has one of the highest rates of new cases of HIV/AIDS in the nation, ranking 9th overall. 

Organizations like Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida have been helping infected people for more than 25 years.

The organization is opening up a new clinic. They are partnering up with CAN Community Health and turning the building into a one-stop-shop for people in the community living with HIV and AIDS.

Justin Bell tested positive for HIV in 2007.
 
“I was one of those individuals who looked in the mirror and said, HIV wouldn’t happen to me,” said Bell
 
Bell was diagnosed during a visit to the hospital. Since then, he has dedicated his life to helping others and working to erase the stigma that comes along with the virus.
 
“HIV and AIDS have no face,” said Bell. For him, December 1st is about raising awareness through education, prevention, and testing.
 
In Jacksonville, the numbers are staggering with more than 6,000 people battling the virus on any given day.
 
Dr. Max Wilson with CAN Community Health says more than 10% of people with HIV don’t even know they have it.
 
“We now understand that treatment is prevention,” said Dr. Wilson.
 
The organization is proud to announce its collaboration with Lutheran Social Services and it’s first clinic in the Jacksonville area.
 
“The partnership with CAN and Lutheran Social Services is not only going to bring comprehensive clinical services and social services to those who need it, but it’s also going to increase the number of testing sites that are available here in town,” said Dr. Wilson.
 
The clinic will expand services to include an on-site physician, lab, and a pharmacy. It is set to open in late December.
 


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