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World AIDS Day is a sacred day for the HIV/ AIDS community as people around the world remember those who have lost their lives to the illness as well as those who are still struggling with the sickness.

They want the whole world at the same time every year to remember, said Frank Tant of the AIDS Resource Council of Rome.

December is AIDS awareness month and is always kicked off by World AIDS Day, said Tant. This year’s theme is “Know Your Status” Tant. He said this is important because many believe that just because HIV/AIDS is not as common as it was in the ’80s and ’90s that the threat has gone away.

According to the council’s website, there are 32,000 residents in Georgia that are living with AIDS, making it the eighth highest in the nation as well as the second in new HIV cases.

The AIDS Resource Council of Rome offers free HIV tests during regular office hours which are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Wednesday’s hours are 10 a.m. – noon and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., the office is closed on Fridays and weekends.

Tant said if a patient is negative to “keep doing what you’re doing to stay negative.” However if a patient tests positive he said to make an appointment with Specialty Care Clinic at the Floyd County Health Department.

“They take care of the whole patient,” he said.

He added that modern medicine has made HIV easier to treat. It is also worth noting that having HIV does not necessarily mean a patient is AIDS positive, however AIDS can develop if HIV is not treated.

The AIDS Resource Council of Rome also offers support groups once a month for HIV positive people and people who care about them. The council also offers emergency financial assistance.

To learn more about the AIDS Resource Council of Rome visit aidsresourcecouncil.org/index.html or call 706-290-9098.