A World AIDS Day observance will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Niagara Arts & Cultural Center, 1201 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls.
This year's observance of World AIDS Day by the Niagara County AIDS Task Force will highlight the HIV epidemic's disproportionate impact on the African American community.
In Western New York, blacks comprise only 10 percent of the population, but account for 38 percent of residents (not including prisoners) living with HIV/AIDS and for 35 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available.
L. Lorenzo Williams, a dynamic AIDS activist and health care consultant from New York City, will speak on creative solutions to the problem.
Parking is available in the lot across Walnut Street from the back of the NAAC.
A special feature of this year's event will be a reading by college students of an excerpt from the play "The Normal Heart" about the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when the death toll was overwhelming. The play was a major off-Broadway hit when it was written in 1985, and had a successful Broadway revival this year. Even though treatment regimens for HIV are highly effective today, the play is an emotional retrospective and an appropriate reminder for today's teens and 20-somethings about the dangers of unprotected sex.
The Community Health Center of Niagara is co-sponsoring the observance, offering confidential HIV testing during the event. It also will provide complimentary food and beverages after the program.
Both the American and Canadian Falls will be illuminated in red for the first 15 minutes of each hour at 7 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. that evening in commemoration of AIDS victims.