World AIDS Day Event

The Infectious Disease program of South Health District and Valdosta State University are hosting a luncheon on Tuesday, December 1 in recognition of World AIDS Day. This is a day for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

Mars Hallman, Berrien County resident, will be the featured speaker at this year’s luncheon. Mars is a teenager who overcame obstacles at school and within the community to create a gay-straight alliance at Berrien County High School. This was the first gay-straight alliance established in a high school in south Georgia. Mars was awarded a Student Advocate of the Year award from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) this year in Beverly Hills.

“GLSEN’s Respect Awards are a remarkable opportunity to bring together champions and role models from all sectors of society and all walks of life,” said GLSEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard in a statement. “As we round out the slate of this year’s honorees, we see this once again. We are proud to honor Zachary Quinto as a visible member of the LGBT community who uses his platform to bring attention to the struggles that many LGBT youth still face. I am thrilled that all of the other honorees will share the stage with Mars Hallman, who has been a force for change in a small corner of rural Georgia, facing down relentless opposition to found the first GSA in the area and defend their right to meet.”

Held December 1 each year, World AIDS Day is geared to build more awareness about HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 50,000 people get infected with HIV each year.  In 2010, there were at least 47,500 new HIV infections in the United States. Georgia is ranked one of the top ten states for new HIV/AIDS cases yearly.

Free and confidential HIV testing will be provided at the event from 9 to 11 am in the Student Union Ballroom C at Valdosta State University. The luncheon will follow at noon in Student Union Ballrooms A and B.

To register for the World AIDS Day event, please visit For more information on HIV/AIDS contact the Infectious Disease Office at 229-245-8711.