ALBANY, N.Y. - New York State is recognizing Wednesday as World AIDS Day to remember individuals who have died from the disease and those who currently are affected.
The Department of Health is inviting students and the public to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center to educate the Capital Region and observe the day.
A group of speakers from the Young Adult Consumer Advising Committee of the State Health
Department are telling their personal stories about the effects of HIV/AIDS.
Dorian Jaypaat of the Bronx said "expressing my story, it helps fight the stigma."
Organizers say about 900 students will be in convention center to hear those stories to bring awareness to the virus.
At the convention center, quilts lined the walls for the students to see.
Mary Lou Hamlin or "Moo" of the "Names Project" said the quilts are memorials for the people who passed away from the virus. She explained it is an effective way for people to see how real the disease is.
"We are recognizing the disease and we are celebrating these people's lives," said Hamlin. "We are not mourning their deaths."
One speaker, Raven Lopez, 23, of Brooklyn says she was born with HIV. The message she wants to send out is how the virus is not stopping her from living day to day. She also says she's been discriminated and judged by others but wants to let people know she's like anybody else.
"By doing this work by outreach I want people to understand I'm human and I'm not the virus," said Lopez. "I can do what you guys do. I can have a boyfriend, I can look nice. I can party. I can do whatever and live a human life."
After those affected by HIV/AIDS spoke, students were able to engage and ask questions.
Lopez suggests people should get themselves tested in order to stay protected against the virus.
This event will be held until 5 p.m. on Wednesday. It's a free event and open to the public.