Editorial - AIDS battle is far from over; here's how you can helpIf you think AIDS is shrinking into the background, think again. It’s still a serious health threat, cutting lives short and showing no signs of disappearing.
If you think AIDS is shrinking into the background, think again.
It’s still a serious health threat, cutting lives short and showing no signs of disappearing.
A 2008 HIV Surveilance Report recently released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) underscores that point.
Reported new cases of HIV infection in Minnesota reached 326 in 2008, compared to 325 new cases in 2007 and 318 cases in 2006.
On average, MDH received a new reported HIV case every 27 hours in 2008. An estimated 6,220 people are currently living with HIV in Minnesota.
This isn’t just a “big city” problem. In Greater Minnesota (outside the seven-county metro area), 870 cases of HIV were reported, up from 824 cases in 2007.
There are ways everyday citizens can help reverse those numbers. They can support or participate in a “Red Ribbon Ride” set for July 16-19. The event is designed to raise awareness and money to help people living with HIV/AIDS as well as educate those who are at risk for the disease.
Hundreds of committed cyclists and volunteer crew will ride nearly 300 miles over four days, traveling from the Mall of America and ending at the State Capitol in St. Paul.
The Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN) is one of seven agencies that will receive money from the Red Ribbon Ride.
RAAN is a non-profit, community-based organization with a mission to organize, develop and sustain caring communities of professionals and volunteers serving and supporting persons living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV/AIDS in the rural Midwest.
Throughout Greater Minnesota, RAAN provides case management, HIV testing, prevention education, professional training, transportation assistance, emotional support and assistance with medical bills. In existence for 18 years, it’s the only statewide organization dedicated to ensuring HIV/AIDS services to Minnesota’s rural communities at the local level.
RAAN offered the following ways people can help support its cause:
•Check out Team RAAN’s webpage by going to its website, www.raan.org and clicking the link, “Team RAAN Webpage.”
•To donate – scroll down and click on an individual team member, click on the donate button and follow the instructions.
•Join Team RAAN – click on “Join Our Team” at the Team RAAN webpage and follow the instructions. Signing up is quick and painless and they even have tips on how to raise money. Riders are responsible for paying a $75, non-refundable, non-transferable registration fee. You must be 18 years old by July 16, 2009 to register. Riders are required to raise a minimum of $1,500 to participate. If you are not into cycling, support crews are always needed, RAAN noted.
Too many people have HIV and don’t know it. An estimated 30 percent are unaware they are infected. Because they may be symptom-free for up to a decade, they continue to unknowingly infect others with the virus.
That’s why it is so important to keep AIDS awareness on the forefront, reminding people about the testing that’s available and the precautions they must take. You can determine your risk factor for contracting HIV by visiting RAAN’s website at www.raan.org. In addition, RAAN has established a toll-free hotline – 1-800-966-9735.
The Alexandria RAAN office offers free and confidential testing. Diane Hermes is the case manager for West Central Minnesota, which includes Douglas County. She can be reached at the Alexandria office at (320) 762-7226 or toll-free at 1-877-536-7226.