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Fall Preview: Atlanta Pride, plus much more to fill your community calendar

Atlanta Pride festival

As the temperature falls from the high 90s to the low 80s, Atlanta’s social calendar picks up with some of the biggest LGBT events of the year.

The season offers a bit of everything, from huge outdoor events like Atlanta Pride and AIDS Walk Atlanta, to smaller fundraisers, Halloween galas, and even somber occasions like Transgender Day of Remembrance and World AIDS Day.

Fall is so crowded with LGBT gatherings that two garden party fundraisers will overlap with each other. Both the Health Initiative and Lambda Legal will hold garden parties in Midtown on Sept. 23.

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Atlanta City Hall to ‘go red’ for World AIDS Day

You may be seeing red at Atlanta City Hall on Thursday and through December. But not for the usual reasons.

Mayor Kasim Reed and the city of Atlanta are partnering with (RED) to bring awareness about HIV and AIDS by having city hall lit up with red lights beginning tomorrow and throughout the month. The main mission of (RED) is to "have a world where virtually no child is born with HIV by 2015."

Atlanta took part in the international event of illuminating well-known landmarks last year for the first time. Other sites lit up red last year included the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and the London Eye.

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Religion blog: We must remember the disease continues to kill, maim and destroy

My coming out days were lived out in Chicago, Illinois (1965-1982). I also came out prior to HIV/AIDS being part of our everyday lives.

During my time in Chicago, the gay community was party central but also a close-knit community. Over the years I developed close friendships with a group of people that at its peak numbered fifteen.

We all hung out together, spent time at the clubs together and I guess by today’s standards could have had a reality TV show made about us.

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Savannah vigil commemorates World AIDS Day

Savannah commemorates World AIDS Day

While there are numerous activities are taking place in Atlanta to honor World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Savannah's My Brothaz HOME is also planning to hold its annual candlelight vigil.

The vigil is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday in the parking lot of My Brothaz HOME, 2111 Price St., Savannah, GA. Light refreshments will be provided.

HOME is an acronym for "Helping Our Men Excel." The nonprofit organization was founded in April 2000 and provides HIV prevention and support services to those in Savannah and outlying communities.

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New HIV infection rates in the U.S.

1.2 MILLION people in the United States are living with HIV.

1 in 5 are unaware of their infection.

CDC estimates that men who have sex with men (MSM) account for just 2 percent of the US population, but accounted for 61 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009. MSM accounted for 49 percent of people living with HIV infection in 2008.

In 2009, white MSM accounted for the largest number of new HIV infections of any group in the US, followed closely by black MSM.

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World AIDS Day strives to raise awareness

AIDS Memorial Quilt

Since 1988 when World AIDS Day was conceived by the World Health Organization, people around the globe have made Dec. 1 a time to raise awareness about the pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 617,000 people in the U.S. and 30 million worldwide since its beginnings 30 years ago.

In Atlanta and Georgia, numerous events are planned including free HIV testing by AIDS service organizations and health departments. This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero” — zero new infections, zero AIDS cases and zero stigma.

But remembering AIDS for one day out of the year is not enough, said Michael Baker, director of development for Positive Impact in Atlanta, an organization that focuses on culturally competent mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and risk reduction services to those who are affected by HIV.

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Atlanta-based AIDS Memorial Quilt busy as World AIDS Day nears

AIDS Memorial Quilt

The Names Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt is currently in the midst of “World AIDS Day” season — sending out blocks of the quilt around the country as the annual Dec. 1 commemoration nears.

“This is the time of year we call ‘World AIDS Day season,’” says Jada Harris, director of programs for the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which has its national headquarters in Atlanta.

“Most quilts will be off the shelves in the next couple of weeks. We get requests from different countries, but most requests come from the U.S.,” Harris says.

Blocks of the Quilt are shipped via UPS and FedEx from the Atlanta warehouse where the 54-ton quilt is housed. Larger blocks of the Quilt are also shipped via trucks.

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Emory students take time out to remember World AIDS Day

AIDS Quilt on display at Emory University

Caroline Stokes and her friend, Tonni Blount, sat on the top floor of the Dobbs Student Center at Emory University, finishing up their lunch of soup and chatting about the end of the school year.

The noise of dozens of other students could be heard in the background as they all carried on intimate conversations. But listening closely, a monotone voice could be heard through the others reading a list of dozens and dozens of names.

The names were of people who had died of AIDS, part of the university's World AIDS Day program on Dec. 1, that included a display of some 40 AIDS Quilt panels in the student center. A total of 80 panels were on view throughout the campus in various buildings.