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DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowans gathered in downtown Des Moines at The Blazing Saddle bar to commemorate World AIDS Day.

First observed in 1988, World AIDS Day was created to raise awareness and knowledge of HIV prevention and treatment.

“It’s great to see the community, and as I’ve said, we’ve lost a lot of what I would call the pioneers early on and so this is an opportunity to remember them but also acknowledge there are people fighting for their lives today,” said Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy.

The Project, an extension of Primary Health Care, offered free HIV testing to everyone at Sunday’s event. They also provided information on prevention and education, while passing out free condoms.

“We really want to introduce the language that there’s no stigma. There’s no shame about living with HIV. Reducing that stigma allows people to come in and seek treatment. It allows people to get tested,” said Noah Beacom, a prevention specialist from The Project.

The Project has locations in Des Moines and Ames. Both offer free, confidential HIV and STI testing to anyone. To schedule an appointment, visit their website.