Nov. 29, 2002 – Leaders of Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim communities will take part in an interfaith service on Sunday evening to mark World AIDS Day in the St. Thomas-St. John district.
The service, which will begin at 5 p.m. at Memorial Moravian Church on Norre Gade in downtown Charlotte Amalie, will conclude with the lighting of candles in remembrance of those who have died, those still living with HIV/AIDS-related diseases and their loved ones, according to a release from Pat Odoms, co-chair of the St. Thomas/St. John 2002 World AIDS Day Committee.
Invitations have been extended to other faith groups, and it is hoped that they, too, will participate in the service, Odoms said.
At 6:30 p.m., which is when the interfaith service will end, the committee is asking houses of worship on both islands to ring their bells 20 times to mark the 20th anniversary of the first case of AIDS diagnosed in the Virgin Islands.
In a release this week, Delegate Donna M. Christian reminded Virgin Islanders that HIV- and AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among males ages 15 to 44 in the Caribbean. Christian, who is a physician and chairs the Health Braintrust of the Congressional Black Caucus, said that it was estimated two years ago that one in 300 persons was living with HIV/AIDS and that the primary means of transmission in the Virgin Islands was heterosexual contact.
Statistics released this week by the World Health Organization indicate that women now account for about half of all persons infected with the AIDS virus.
"World AIDS Day is an opportunity for us to remember those who have died and to recommit our efforts to ending the scourge of HIV/AIDS in our communities," she said.
For more information about the St. Thomas-St. John observances, see "AIDS Day events to focus on faith communities".)
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