Greetings everyone! Today marked the start of AIDS Awareness Month 2009 as we pause to remember all those we have lost in the fight against this epidemic and work hard to continue raising awareness and funds for this cause. There were several events buzzing to commemorate World AIDS Day, and here's a few:

1) Lights For Rights New York City Event - Washington Square Park, NYC - 6-7PM: This event featured such speakers as actress and UNAIDS Goodwill ambassador Naomi Watts, amFAR chairman Kenneth Cole, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. At 6:15, the lights on the Washington Square Park Memorial Arch were turned off for 5 minutes in remembrance of those we've lost to the epidemic. Other venues around NYC participated in this gesture, including all Broadway theaters, Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, the Chrysler Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

2) Waking Up to HIV: A Community Gathering - United Medical Center, Washington, D.C. - 5-7PM: This event marked the first annual World AIDS Day Commemoration held at this medical facility.

3) 24-Hour Vigil/Reading of the Names - City Hall Park, NYC - At midnight on Dec. 1, activists, volunteers, and individuals living with HIV/AIDS began continually reading names to remember loved ones lost, as well as raise awareness about the twin crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness.

In addition to today's remembrance events around the country, we've learned that Chembio Diagnostics has donated 4,500 HIV rapid testing kits to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's 2009 Testing Millions Global Campaign to commemorate World AIDS Day. Chembio Diagnostics is an NY-based firm that develops, manufactures, licenses, and markets proprietary rapid diagnostic tests. Lawrence Siebert, chairman and CEO of Chembio said the following:

It's important to remember the need for routine testing so that AIDS patients can receive treatment....However, according to recent research, approximately one in five people who test positive for HIV fail to receive their results and post-test counseling. Some of these patients who are unaware that they are infected inadvertently delay the beginning of treatment while placing others at risk of exposure.

Events and actions like these let us know that HIV/AIDS is still a major issue and is still on the radar for many organizations. However, it's not enough that we get involved just for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. We need to work tirelessly throughout the year to continue to raise awareness, to educate, to treat, and to act on the behalf of those who need help and caring most. This epidemic does NOT take a hiatus until December, and neither should we.

Looking for ways to get involved? Check out Lights For Rights at