A vigil was held at Sam Houston Park for World AIDS Day to honor the 33 million people who have died due to HIV-related illness since the start of the HIV Epidemic.

The Houston Health Department, along with other community partners hosted the vigil on the 33rd annual World AIDS Day in downtown Houston. It was one of several events held across the Houston area on Wednesday.

President Joe Biden’s administration announced a new initiative in conjunction with the CDC to reduce the number of new HIV diagnoses and to end the HIV epidemic by 2030.

John Huckaby, CEO of the AIDS Foundation Houston said this could have a significant impact on local organizations including AIDS Foundation Houston that works to provide resources and preventative services to the community.

“We’re very grateful that the federal government is increasing the resources at the community level,” Huckaby said. “So that agencies like ours can continue to develop strategies and interventions to really move us toward ending the epidemic. We believe we can get there.”

According to AIDS Foundation Houston, one in seven people nationwide are unaware of their HIV status.

Both Houston and Harris County have higher rates of new HIV diagnosis and people living with HIV, than the rate for the state of Texas and the United States, according to the latest data report.

Huckaby told ABC13 that the African American community comprises 50% of all people living with HIV in the Houston area, and Hispanic or Latinos comprise 28.5% of people living with HIV in the Houston area.