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St. Petersburg: Candlelight Vigil to Raise Awareness of Florida HIV/AIDS Crisis, Honor Lives Lost

High Infection Rates, Rising Rapidly Among Minorities and Women, Continue

to Plague State 10,688 Living with AIDS in Tampa-St. Petersburg Area; 32% of HIV Cases in

Area Are Female

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Sept. 25 /PRNewwire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation:

What: HIV/AIDS Candlelight Vigil

When: Thursday, September 27, 20077:00pm

Where: Poynter Park

800 3rd Street South

St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

(Next to the Salvador Dali museum)

Who: HIV/AIDS advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS, medical care

providers and concerned community members

Contacts: Lori Yeghiayan, AHF Associate Director of Communications

(323) 377-4312 mobile, (323) 860-5227 office

Liza Nash, AHF Statewide Advocacy Coordinator

(727) 482-3849 mobile, (727) 533-9000 office

*B-Roll: Vigil participants will be igniting candles, symbolizing the 125,000 Floridians living with HIV/AIDS & those whose lives have been lost

Scores of HIV/AIDS advocates are expected to attend an HIV/AIDS Candlelight Vigil in Poynter Park in St. Petersburg on Thursday, September 27th at 7:00 p.m. to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS and to support the estimated 125,000 Floridians living with the disease today. The event, sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), will also help raise awareness about Florida's HIV/AIDS epidemic which, like much of the nation, is growing most rapidly among minorities, including African-Americans, Latinos and women.

"The purpose of this vigil is to remember and honor those who have lost their lives AIDS and to demonstrate community solidarity as we continue to fight for access to lifesaving medical care and services for the 125,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Florida today," said Michael Kahane, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Bureau Chief, Southern Region. "Ranked third in the nation in the number of AIDS cases per state, Florida's epidemic is at a crisis point and its affects are being felt in communities throughout the state. Tampa-St. Petersburg is the third largest city in Florida for cumulative AIDS cases with 10,688 people living with the disease. 32% of HIV cases in the area are female. It is hoped that this vigil will shed light on the fact that the epidemic continues to impact Florida communities and that minorities and women continue to be affected disproportionately throughout the state."

More than 4,000 HIV/AIDS cases are diagnosed in Florida every year, accounting for 10% of all new infections in the U.S., which is estimated at 40,000 new cases per year. Women accounted for 30% of the HIV cases reported in Florida in 2006. African-American comprise over 50% of the reported HIV cases in the state.

According to "Silence is Death: The Crisis of HIV/AIDS in Florida's Black Communities" (a report published by Florida's Department of Health in September 2006) in 2005 1 in 58 black males and 1 in 83 black females in Florida were living with a diagnosed case of HIV/AIDS. In 2005, for the 15th year in a row, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death among black males and black females aged 25-44 years. Concerned by the crisis, the Department of Health implemented a local and statewide "Silence is Death" initiative aimed at reducing the number of infections in Florida's communities of color, particularly African-American communities.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the nation's largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare, research, prevention and education provider. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 61,000 individuals in 15 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean and Asia. Additional information is available at

In Florida, AIDS Healthcare Foundation provides specialized HIV/AIDS medical care and services through its AHF Magic Johnson Healthcare Center in Jacksonville; its statewide disease management program, Positive Healthcare; five Positive Healthcare Pharmacies located in Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Miami & Jacksonville; and will launch its innovative Medicare Advantage Part D Special Needs Program in Miami-Dade & Broward counties on January 1, 2008.

For more information please visit:

SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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