On a chilly evening Wednesday, Dec. 1, a handful of people gathered at Post Office Square to reflect on how far AIDS research has come over the years, to honor those who live with the disease and to remember those who have died from it.

Wednesday’s vigil marked the 20th year for the annual World AIDS Day observance in Belfast. The first was held in 1990.

The group held candles, shared poetry readings and learned not only how much has been done to combat the disease, but what must be done to prevent a new generation of widespread infection.

Meredith Bruskin, co-founder of Camp Crysalis, a camp in Midcoast Maine for children and their families who are affected by HIV and AIDS, shared statistics with those gathered to express the urgency of that mission.

Bruskin said there are more than 1 million people in the United States living with AIDS, and one in five people are unaware that they are infected. Bruskin said nearly half of the new cases involve people age 25 and younger.

Bruskin said that’s because the younger generation did not grow up during the start of the AIDS epidemic, and are less aware of — and less worried by — the disease. That’s why beefing up education geared toward prevention is so important for today’s youth, she said.

“They don’t remember,” said Bruskin. “… That’s really why we want this information to continue to get out there.”