As a way to raise awareness about the treatment and prevention of AIDS and HIV in the community and to celebrate the strength of those living with the illnesses, the Scarlet Event will be held Friday, Dec. 12, in downtown Mobile in Cathedral Square. Planned from 5 to 8 p.m., it’s free and open to the public.

Held during the December ArtWalk in and around the square, artists, musicians and dancers — including author and motivational speaker Ole Pete Key — will perform. Art and handmade jewelry will be for sale, with some crafted by those affected by HIV and AIDS, organizers said. Proceeds will benefit the Mobile AIDS Coalition.

While new drug therapies have improved outcomes for those with HIV/AIDS, so far this year, at least 88 people have been diagnosed with new HIV infections in Mobile County. The infection knows no race, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic boundaries. It continues to infect as many as 50,000 people a year in the U.S., among them women and children.

Historically, Mobile County has had one of the highest HIV infection rates per capita in Alabama, according to Dr. Bernard Eichold, who leads the Mobile County Health Department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV or AIDS, and more than 20 percent of them don’t know they are infected.

Sponsors of the Scarlet Event include the Mobile County Health Department, Franklin Primary Health Care, Inc., the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital and the Mobile AIDS Coalition, among others.

For more information about the event, contact Ty Tover, event coordinator for the Mobile AIDS Coalition at 251-623-0297.