Mark Clayton Hall

World AIDS Day East Tennessee advocate

If a person came to the World AIDS Day observance on Dec. 1, what could he or she expect?

People working together in cheer and laughter. You don't see that much when dealing with HIV. We'll be showing digital stories at the Emporium Center (100 S. Gay Street) of people who are infected with HIV, along with personal remembrances of those lost in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Then we'll be going to the World's Fair site for the balloon release and candlelight vigil.

What do the balloons represent?

They can represent an individual, or honor someone who is HIV positive, or a reflection, or general support—people are also going to be able to attach a name to the balloon, or a memento, or a written message. My sister is going to release one with my name on it.

What does it mean when the balloons are let go?

I would have to say freedom and release.

How about the candles?

They will light the world, and let people know about HIV awareness.

Is the focus more on global HIV, like in Africa, or local?

We want this reflection to be global and also bring awareness of the 1,073 people who are infected with HIV in this area as of April of this year, that we know of.

So it's not focusing just on people with AIDS?

There are people with AIDS, but it is very rare to find in this area. Most are HIV positive, they haven't gone into full-blown AIDS yet—their T-cell count has not dropped below 200.

They're still getting around, still looking healthy?

Honey, if you saw me, you would think there was nothing wrong with me. There is no face to HIV nowadays.

World AIDS Day observance, Dec. 1, 6 p.m. Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay St.; vigil, alloon release 7:30 p.m. at World's Fair site; more information: