World AIDS Day tradition continues in Hillcrest

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SAN DIEGO – In honor of World AIDS Day, hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night at Village Hillcrest for a Christmas celebration and somber vigil to remember victims of the illness.

A Christmas tree was decorated by volunteers with ornaments containing hand-written notes to loved ones who are among the 658,000 thousand Americans who have died from AIDS through the years.

Dr. Daniel Lee, an HIV specialist, sees "at least several new patients a day" at his office in Owen Clinic at UCSD Medical Center. He said his clinic alone sees about 500 new HIV patients every year.

He said Charlie Sheen's recent announcement that he is HIV-positive should help the cause and keep it in the limelight.

"We are seeing more infection in younger gay youth, as well as women and the elderly," Lee said.

Specifically, Latina and African-American women are seeing a big increase in the number of HIV cases, along with people over the age of 50. Unprotected sex is still the most common cause of the spread of HIV.

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