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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The 19th International AIDS Conference is underway in the nation's capital. It's the first time the conference has been held in D.C. And the second time in the United States in more than 2 decades.

Sunday afternoon people rallied on the National Mall for "Keep the Promise March on Washington." Organizers want to remind people that AIDS remains a threat to global health.

The events take place in a city with the highest rate, in the country, of people living with HIV with just under 3%, the number more than doubles among black men, according to DC Department of Health.

"it was a traumatic experience, I was in the 6th grade."

Kevin Breckenridge lost his uncle to AIDS. He's part of the startling static according to DHS that 80 percent of HIV patients are black men.

"The family doesn't talk about it until something like this comes up. He died way too early. He was in his 30s."

The rally reminds people of their loss while it empowers others.

Aaron Laxton learned he was HIV positive last year.

"HIV is still infecting and affecting people. I have nothing to be ashamed of."

For a quiet reflection, people are visiting the AIDS memorial quilt.

A reminder of too many lives lost

Mark Wasson is a DC resident who was told he was HIV Positive 17 years ago this month.

"People have forgotten all these people have died."

Chancy Lyford is another DC resident who was told he was HIV Positive 12 years ago.

"it connects me with these people and it reminds me it's as deadly as it ever was."

But there is exciting new research and drugs that give those living with this deadly disease, hope.

Lyford, "it's what's keeping me alive."

Global leaders are meeting all week. Kevin Breckenridge hopes they talk about prevention and the continuation of funding treatment so more quilts aren't added to the memorial or end up like his uncle.

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