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Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church to host vigil for World AIDS Day

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 01:11

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church will be hosting a vigil in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 in Huntsville. The ceremony is in remembrance of those who have battled with AIDS, and seeks to raise awareness of the disease.

Scott Antrip, Wesley Outreach Committee Chair, has helped set up the event which is having its fourth annual gathering in Huntsville on Saturday.

“It got started because Wesley was trying to spend advent thinking about some of the world issues and how we can respond to those,” said Antrip. “This AIDS vigil started and has continued to be an effort to call attention to the brutal disease of HIV/AIDS… and to also remember those who lived with it and lost that battle.”

According to a report published by CNN, the CDC said that 60 percent of 13-24 year olds were not aware of the HIV positivity, and that 87 percent of high school students have never been tested for the infection.

“That’s stunning to me,” said Wesley Pastor Rev. Cheryl Smith. “That is enough to call attention to this disease, to take away some of the stigma. [The church] is willing to say that the education, prevention, and cure is something that is important to us. It belongs right in the middle of a faith community and we’re trying to raise awareness and be compassionate about it.”

Marina Miller, sophomore dance major, is attending the event and urges the spreading of AIDS awareness.

“I have a very close friend who just recently told me he had been infected with HIV and it was developing into AIDS,” said Miller. “… It’s something people should be aware of because it can happen to someone you really care about. My point being more people everyday are contracting the virus and we need to do all we do to stop it.”

Walker County has seen 72 cases in which an individual was HIV positive, while the entire state of Texas saw 34,258 confirmed cases of HIV during the period from 2004 to 2011, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“It is at least our goal every day at this church to be inclusive and not overlook anybody,” said Smith. “… That’s the social justice part of it. Sometimes people with AIDS get verymarginalized in our society by not gaining access to healthcare and medicine. It’s witness, it’s awareness, and it’s social justice.”

The World AIDS Day Vigil will be held at the Sam Houston Museum Gazebo on the corner of 19 Street and Ave. O at noon on Saturday, Dec. 1. For more information, visit the World AIDS Day Vigil Facebook event page.

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