World AIDS Day recognized from Hillcrest to the Vatican

HILLCREST – Hundreds of people gathered Sunday night for a candlelight vigil commemorating World AIDS Day.

The event, in front of the Landmark Theatres on 5th Avenue between University and Washington, honored those affected by the deadly disease, which currently has no cure. Attendees were serenaded with holiday songs by San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, viewed large hanging swaths of the AIDS memorial quilt, and witnessed the lighting of the Christmas tree.

The event was a fundraiser for Mama's Kitchen, San Diego's only county-wide meal delivery service for hundreds of men, women and children affected by AIDS or cancer.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2013 is “getting to zero” – as in zero new HIV infections, zero instances of discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Two blocks south, popular cupcake shop Babycakes did their part to “get to zero”. Special red ribbon cupcakes went on display, proceeds from which support a local program that supports San Diegans affected by HIV/AIDS.

“It's a marble cupcake with vanilla buttercream,” says co-owner Christopher Stavros, “with a little fondant red ribbon on top to support the cause of AIDS. We're doing this in conjunction with Being Alive San Diego.”

Being Alive supports more than 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients. Stavros says the cupcakes will be available through the end of December.

Worldwide, Pope Francis was among those taking part in World AIDS Day.

He asked pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square to pray for those who were sick, as well as the doctors and researchers working on HIV/AIDS.

Francis urged the faithful to pray so that “each sick person, nobody excluded, may access the therapy they need.”

The Vatican came under fire in the past for saying the best way to prevent the spread of HIV is abstinence, instead of the use of condoms. But Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, received praise from the lead UN agency on HIV/AIDS for comments he made in 2010, which appeared to justify the use of condoms in certain circumstances to prevent the transmission of HIV.

Categories: KUSI