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South Florida Marks World AIDS Day

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Sunday is not on the first day of December, it was also World AIDS Day.Miami-Dade and Broward counties lead the nation in the number of new HIV/AIDS  events to recognize World Aids day.

To mark the occasion, Archbishop Thomas Wenski celebrated a special World AIDS Day Mass at St. Mary Cathedral to pray for those living with HIV/AIDS, their families, and in remembrance of those who have passed away because of complications caused by HIV.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami hosted a "Red Bucket Sunday" at St. Anthony Church in Ft. Lauderdale in which they collected donations for its HIV Ministry, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.

By afternoon, prayers turned into advocacy and education.

"When I first found out I was positive it was really hard for me to let anybody know about my status but thanks to the love and support of my family, I got to the point where I don't really care who knows about my status," said Sherlyne Joseph who is HIV positive.

On Miami Beach, a special sand sculpture of AIDS ribbons was built on the beach at 12th Street where Care Resource was giving out gifts to everyone who got tested.

Miami-Dade County continues to lead the nation in the number of new HIV infections with African-American making up a large portion of that number, according to Miami-Dade S.O.S. (Sistas Organizing to Survive).

"I think what's alarming is that because of the shift to other populations of people who may have higher risk activites than women, we tend to be pushed to the back  but black women are still dying from HIV," said Kalenthia Nunnaly of S.O.S.

The organization has a community awareness march planned for Sunday afternoon to the Joseph Caleb Center on NW 22nd Avenue where HIV rapid testing will be available along with prevention and care information

This year, World AIDS Day coincided with the annual Care Resources White Party on Miami Beach.It's a 30 year fundraiser that raised money for support, care and meds for people infected with HIV.  It's billed as the worlds oldest and largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser supporting the agency's roughly 12-thousand clients.

Care resource designed a sand sculpture with red ribbons displayed near the ocean. It also provided rapid HIV/AIDS testing on the beach.

More events are set for throughout the week. The World AIDS DAY Walk & 5k Run will be held December 7 at Griffin Park in North Miami.  Registration starts at 8 a.m. The walk/run starts at 9 a.m.

To register for the event, click here.

If you would like to find a testing site in your area, click here.

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