It's a disease effecting more than 58 million people worldwide. HIV and AIDS claims 8,000 lives everyday.
Wednesday was World AIDS Day, and despite an international education campaign, the stigma of AIDS as a homosexual disease still slows the flow of information.
Every year the local HIV and AIDS Awareness Organization Basic holds a candlelight vigil for World AIDS Day.
"It's a time to remember those we have lost and let them know they have not died in vain," says Valerie Mincey.
Mincey also hopes the vigil will remind people the importance of getting tested. The Bay County Health Department offers free testing year-round.
"We have confidential and anonymous testing. Confidential means we won't release your name but we do have records here at the Health Department of your test results. Anonymous testing, we arrange it so only you see your results and they are never sent to us," says Rick Davis of the Bay County Health Department.
This year's World AIDS Day theme is women and girls. Thirty percent of Bay County's infected population are women and that number is growing. One major concern is pregnant women passing the virus onto their unborn children. There are ways to keep the virus from infecting your baby like having a Cesarean section.
The candlelight vigil started at 6 p.m. Wednesday Basic Headquarters in downtown Panama City had an open house until 8 p.m.
A few facts about AIDS and HIV
How is HIV and AIDS transmitted
Early symptoms of HIV infection
What is AIDS?
Source: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/hivinf.htm (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Fact Sheet)