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World AIDS Day events to help raise awareness

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This year the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force turns 25 years old.

And while most organizations might see that as a positive milestone, Executive Director Kathi Boyle says it's not something to celebrate.

"I thought we'd be out of business by now," she says.

But with HIV infections still spreading in the community, the task force has plenty to work on. 

For help, PATF has partnered with 30-some other organizations and the city for the (Pittsburgh) RED campaign. Launched in 2009, the campaign -- tied into the global RED movement -- works to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and to encourage testing.

In recognition of World AIDS Day on Wed., Dec. 1, the campaign and the city have scheduled several events.

A candlelight vigil will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Morewood and Forbes avenues on Carnegie Mellon University's campus. Participants will then proceed down Forbes Avenue to the lawn outside of Heinz Memorial Chapel. There, a memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. 

Free testing will be available at various sites during the day; a full list of times and locations can be found at www.pittsburghred.org. Testing sites include the GLCC, 210 Grant St., Downtown, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the McKeesport Collaborative HIV/AIDS Working Group, 339 Fifth Ave., McKeesport, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and the University of Pittsburgh Early Intervention Project, Falk Medical Building, seventh floor, 3601 Fifth Ave., Oakland, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2; and daily, at the PATF, 5913 Penn Ave., East Liberty.

Also during the week of Nov. 29, portions of the Names Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display at the Carnegie Museum, in Oakland; the City-County Building, Downtown; and various other locations. 

The PATF anniversary luncheon will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rivers Club, One Oxford Centre. To register, call 412-345-7456. 

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will also hold a press conference on the issue -- something Boyle says signifies how attitudes about the disease are changing in Pittsburgh. 

"Five years ago, that never would have happened," she says.

For a full list of events, and testing locations and times, visit www.pittsburghred.org.

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