"The actual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day isn't until Feb. 7. I chose to do it on a Sunday, because I thought it would get more people out than on a Monday," she said after Sunday afternoon's vigil at Ogden's Emmanuel Church of God in Christ.
Though small in number, McClellan noted that most, if not all, in attendance have been touched in some way by the terrible disease.
"That's too many," she said.
Approximately 38 percent of all HIV/AIDS cases nationally come from the African American community, according to statistics presented by keynote speaker Stephanie Salas.
"This is not a disease of who you are. It's a disease of behavior," said Salas, an Ogden physician who spoke frankly about how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and how to protect against it.
The event brought together several Ogden-area churches and other residents who lit candles in honor of those who have died or who are living with HIV/AIDS.
One doesn't necessarily have to be infected with the disease to suffer from it, said Ogden resident Joann Berzett, who spoke about caring for her son.
"When you cut off one group of people, you cut yourself off to the messages of God," she said, telling how a stranger had helped her as she tried to travel to a family funeral with her son, who has had periods of AIDS-related dementia.
"Let's think of this day as a day to reflect upon the lives of others, not only the ones who have gone on but how we conduct ourselves," she said.
Betty Sawyer, president of the Ogden National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, urged the audience to take advantage of free screenings scheduled for Tuesday.
"Whatever the reason that a disproportionate number of our community is affected by this disease, I say get tested. Even if you have no reason to, someone who needs to go may join with you," she said.
Free and confidential rapid HIV testing will be done from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Northern Utah Coalition HIV/AIDS Project, 536 24th St., Ogden.