COLUMBIA — Thursday is World AIDS Day, and in Columbia the observance will feature a variety of events sponsored by the Columbia-Boone County Department of Health and Human Services, the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network of Central Missouri and others.
A candlelight vigil at 5 p.m. Thursday will be held for the 19th consecutive year and is expected to draw at least 100 people. The vigil at Broadway and College Avenue is intended to show support for people who are living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died, said Kale Mitchell, executive director of Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.
From 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 13 panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt can be viewed at the Firestone Baars Chapel at Stephens College. The quilt already is on display, but Thursday afternoon and evening is the official viewing time.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is made up of individual 3-by-6-foot squares, each of which memorializes someone who died from the disease. The quilt, created by the NAMES Project Foundation, actually comprises more than 40,000 panels and was displayed in its entirety in Washington, D.C., in 2004, Mitchell said.
Also on Thursday, the Interfaith Network and Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education, or SHAPE, will provide free HIV testing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the MU Student Center. Mitchell noted that the Interfaith Network provides free HIV tests year-round at its office, 1123 Wilkes Blvd.
An all-day fundraiser at La Siesta Mexican Cuisine, 33 N. Ninth St., will give 15 percent of the restaurant receipts to Trail to a Cure, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for HIV/AIDS research and services to those living with HIV/AIDS in central Missouri. Participants must bring a flier to the restaurant.
On Wednesday at the Firestone Baars Chapel, LaTricia Miles will deliver a speech at 6 p.m. titled "Living with HIV: A Personal Journey of Trials and Triumph."
An estimated 33.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide. For more information about testing, call 874-7356.