World AIDS Day is always Dec. 1, and this year it falls on Thursday. Just as in years past, members of our city’s HIV Advisory Committee will adorn city-center trees with red ribbons bearing the names of people who have died of AIDS, but this year you’ll see them a few days early. At 3 p.m. on Dec. 1, free HIV testing will be available at the cobblestone area of Main Beach. There Kim de St.Paer of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic will assemble her staff to perform the 20 minute tests all afternoon, until 5 p.m. This “quick” test is provided using funds donated by the city of Laguna Beach. Using a drop of blood from the finger, this reliable test is widely used elsewhere at a cost of $50 per test.
At 5:30 p.m. there will be a brief but moving non-denominational candle lighting ceremony led by Pastor B. J. Beu of the Neighborhood Congregational Church. It will memorialize and honor those who have died of AIDS. At 6, many will proceed to a service at the church as a further reminder of the occasion.
World AIDS Day is a terrific opportunity to raise community awareness that HIV infection continues to be a problem in our community, and to let people be tested anonymously and free of charge. These City Council approved events are one of the ways Laguna Beach fosters education and prevention efforts to help keep people safe from HIV infection.
Come to the cobblestone area in the afternoon of Thursday, Dec.r 1. Treat yourself to a free HIV test, attend the candlelight ceremony at 5:30.
Korey S. Jorgensen MD, member of the HIV Advisory Committee