By Léo Azambuja
Kaua`i joined the rest of the world last month in remembrance of those who have been affected by or lost their lives to AIDS, an auto-immune disease caused by the HIV virus and that currently has no cure.
About a dozen people attended a candlelight vigil at Kalapaki Beach on World AIDS Day Dec. 1, sharing stories, hope thoughts and prayers.
“This is an opportunity for us to recognize those afflicted by the disease, who passed away or are living with it, and also to recognize the advances toward a cure,” said Mistee Bailey-Myrick, director of prevention services at Malama Pono Health Services.
She said the Kaua`i event is also a reminder we have local organizations such as Malama Pono, a United Way agency, to help with prevention through education, distribution of condoms and HIV testing.
There are 1.2 million living with HIV in the United States, and about 4,000 in the state of Hawai`i, according to Malama Pono.
Malama Pono was founded in 1986, two years before the first World AIDS Day in 1988. The agency’s mission is to stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and to serve those affected by those diseases.
Visit www.malama-pono.org for more information.