Hundreds packed Wilton Drive in Fort Lauderdale on World AIDS Day to spread awareness of a disease that is still taking too many lives.
Hundreds packed Wilton Drive in Fort Lauderdale Thursday night on World AIDS Day to spread awareness of a disease that is still taking too many lives.
The leader of the pack was Margaret Cho, who served as this year's Grand Marshal. The normally funny girl talked instead about a not-so funny situation. She opened up about how HIV/AIDS has affected her own life. Cho said she had just spoken to a friend who's battling the disease--perhaps for the last time.
"I was telling him that it's not scary to die and that I have a lot of friends who have already died from this disease. I'm going to be telling them to come and greet him. They will have a sign with his name on it in Heaven," said Cho.
Some hit the pavement in memory of those who are no longer here.
"I think they're watching now. I think even though they lost their lives to something like this, they didn't do it in vain. They are still being remembered," said Jason Shelley of Broward.
South Florida has been hit by the disease quite hard. We have the highest number of new cases per capita in the nation, according to the Broward County Health Department. It is estimated that in Broward County, a person becomes infected every 10 minutes.
"Just because you don't see the deaths that you used to see, doesn't mean they're not occurring. It's seemingly old hat, but it's not," said Shelley who says the main goal is to spread the word about prevention.
Everyone who is sexually active should get tested as the disease does not discriminate. Still, the Centers for Disease Control say there are higher risk groups that should get tested frequently. These include people with more than 1 sexual partner, those who inject drugs, and men who sleep with other men.
The hundreds who walked with a purpose in Wilton Manors believe spreading education and awareness will help decrease new cases in South Florida.