With more than 1,000 people in New Haven and over 850,000 worldwide infected with HIV/AIDS, today’s World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease.

Yale and New Haven will participate in World AIDS Day today, hosting numerous groups and speakers to inform the community about growing problem.

Yale AIDS Watch, founded last year, will hold several events around campus, most notably a speech by Wan Yan Hai. Wan, who was abducted and imprisoned by the Chinese government in 2002 for speaking out about AIDS, is now a World Fellow at Yale and remains the leading AIDS activist in China.

“We wanted to do something relevant to the current state of the epidemic,” YAW communication and development coordinator Alex Reicher ’06 said.

With its rising infection rate, China will shortly surpass Africa as the world’s AIDS hot spot, David Steinberg ’05, one of the group’s founders and coordinators, said.

“AIDS takes time to progress,” Steinberg said. “So we’re suddenly going to see a surge in AIDS cases in China.”

Wan will speak at 4 p.m. at Dwight Hall.

In addition to hosting Wan’s speech, YAW will also post various statistics around campus about how many people are affected by AIDS.

“[The statistics are] a bit antagonizing, but that’s the idea — we really want to reach out to people,” Steinberg said.

YAW will also have a table in front of Commons where members will distribute information about AIDS and red ribbons, Reicher said. Starting at 11 a.m. and continuing through lunch and dinner, YAW will hand out flyers about AIDS and other AIDS awareness groups.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to do so many meaningful things,” YAW co-founder Matt Wilson ’05 said.

YAW hopes to continue to publicize AIDS information and is currently working on organizing a Student AIDS Watch which will allow groups across the country to communicate and start a grass-roots movement, Steinberg and Wilson said.

“It’s such a huge problem, but you can really make a difference on a student level,” Wilson said.

In addition to the on-campus events, the city of New Haven will also host a number of events under the theme “Live and Let Live.”

The Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church of Hamden will display a quilt in honor of children who are living with AIDS. There will also be a vigil held at Trinity Church on the Green, where Mark Kinzly, a research associate at the School of Medicine, will speak. Kinzly formerly coordinated Bridgeport’s needle exchange program and has worked with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which develops housing for people with histories of addiction and mental health problems.

Steinberg said AIDS presents major problems for his generation.

“How we deal with AIDS and its effects: this will be the legacy that our generation leaves,” Steinberg said.