MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s World AIDS Day, a day of AIDS awareness, prevention and testing, and that message is especially important in South Florida.

So far this year, Fort Lauderdale has the highest rate of new HIV cases in the country.  Miami comes in third place.

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On Thursday, president Barack Obama marked the day with an announcement during an appearance at George Washington University.

He said the disease can be beat, and to do so, he’s directing $50 million in new spending on treatment in the United States.

“The fight is not over,” Obama said. “Not for the 1.2 million Americans who are living with HIV right now, not for Americans who are infected everyday. This fight is not over for them. It’s not over for their families and as a consequence it can’t be over for anyone in this room.”

Florida senator Marco Rubio joined Obama at the event. U2 front man Bono, Alicia Keys, former president George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who appeared via satellite, were also in attendance.

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Various events across South Florida are underway and will begin Thursday, including the AIDS Memorial Quilt opening ceremony. At the ceremony, held at the Miami Beach Community Health Center at 9.a.m. at 710 Alton Rd., the names of 500 men, women and children lost to AIDS were read.

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The ceremony is part of the Miami Beach Community Health Center (MBCHC) and The NAMES Project Foundation-AIDS Memorial Quilt.

MBCHC provides free HIV testing, offers ongoing HIV/AIDS medical care and is an enrollment site for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) that provides free medication for patients living with HIV/AIDS.

The health center, a member of Health Choice Network, operates centers in South Beach, North Beach, and North Dade.

A candlelight vigil will also be held in Wilton Manors. Activists will light candles for and read the names of those who died in the first 30 years of the global AIDS epidemic.

Comedienne Margaret Cho will be grand marshal for the walk, which begins at Hagen Park behind City Hall at 2020 Wilton Dr. A rally will follow at 2166 Wilton Dr., with appearances by Cho, Broward gay activists and the Fort Lauderale Gay Men’s Chorus.

Those wishing to participate may lineup at Hagen park at 6 p.m. Click Here for more information.

An 8 p.m. candlelight service will also be held at Miami Beach Community Church, 500 Lincoln Rd.

Care Resource will hold health fair screenings and barbecues outside offices at 3510 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami and 871 W. Oakland Park Blvd. in Broward.

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Testing sites are also set up all over South Florida. Testing will be held at the following “Out of the Closet” locations.

  • Wilton Manors
    2097 Wilton Drive
    Wilton Manors, FL 33305
    10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Miami
    2900 N. Biscayne Blvd.
    Miami, FL 33137
    10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • South Beach
    1510 Alton Rd.
    Miami Beach, FL 33139
    10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Ft. Lauderdale
    1785 Sunrise Blvd.
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304
    10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Delevoe Park
    2520 NW 6th Street
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304
    9:00 am – 5:00 pm