RICHMOND (WRIC)—On Dec. 1, a local service organization put up a display of 1,000 red balloons in Carytown to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS on World AIDS Day.
The red balloons floating along West Cary Street meant more to some than others. The red honors those who have died from the disease, and those who are suffering from it now.
Rodney Lofton is the executive director of the Renewal Projects, a community-based group that hosted Sunday's event and aims to provide a nurturing, educational environment for those living with HIV/AIDS.
"I've lost a number of friends to HIV disease; I've lost half of the guys that I went to high school with who are no longer here," Lofton said, saying the balloons "honor the lives of those we've lost to HIV disease and unfortunately, to honor those that we may lose to HIV tomorrow."
Lofton says that although treatment for the deadly disease has improved over the years, more awareness is needed around the world.
"Every nine and a half minutes, someone tests positive from HIV disease, and it's an opportunity to continue HIV/AIDS awareness," Lofton said.
Approximately 35.3 million people around the world are living with HIV/AIDS, and only a third of them have access to treatment.
World AIDS Day has been celebrated annually on Dec. 1 since 1987.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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