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Candlelight Gospel

It is clear that HIV and AIDS are today's leading global health issues. In the two decades since its outbreak, HIV has infected more than 60 million people and AIDS has caused the deaths of more than 20 million. With the development of antiretroviral drugs, the treatment of AIDS and HIV has progressed significantly over the years. Nevertheless, many people continue to have problems obtaining these drugs and related medical care, and researchers estimate that between now and 2020, over 68 million people will die prematurely of AIDS.This weekend, you can acknowledge the significance of these problems by donating a few hours of your time to some important local organizations.

The Hospice of Florida Suncoast hosts an evening of gospel music to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The Second Annual "Jabula!" (a Zulu word for "rejoice") Gospel Music Celebration is an event also set up to recognize the efforts of the organization's sister hospice in Sowento, South Africa. Beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the Prayer Tower Church of God, the event features a number of different gospel choirs, including Ethel Small and the Disciples and the NAPDM (National Association of Gospel Promoters and Managers, Inc.) Choir. To learn more about The Hospice of Florida Suncoast, go to www.thehospice.org or call 727-586-4432. Prayer Tower Church of God is located at 1137 37th St. S., St. Petersburg.

The 21st Annual International AIDS Candlelight Memorial is honored by thousands of communities in over 85 countries and begins on Sunday, May 16. The event, coordinated by the Global Health Council, commemorates the lives lost to AIDS, demonstrates support for people living with HIV/AIDS and mobilizes community-based responses to HIV/AIDS. Citizens and clergy from all faiths have been invited to participate in the program. The theme is "Turning Remembrance into Action" and the candlelight memorial includes music, inspirational readings and a number of different speakers. The festivities take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Good Samaritan Church, 6085 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park. For further information about this event, please call 727-541-6638.

—Leilani Polk