Candlelight service to shed light on AIDS pandemicIt’s time to shed light on a problem that is still creating confusion and claiming lives. World AIDS Day is Tuesday, December 1.
It’s time to shed light on a problem that is still creating confusion and claiming lives.
World AIDS Day is Tuesday, December 1.
The public is invited to join the Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN) for a candlelight memorial service for AIDS victims and their families on Tuesday, December 1 at 5:30 p.m.
The service will take place at First Congregational Church, 221 7th Avenue West in Alexandria. A soup dinner will be offered following the service.
For more information, call RAAN at 1-877-536-7226.
According to RAAN leaders, although AIDS has been taking lives for more than two decades, it is still a misunderstood disease.
“There continues to be a lack of understanding about who is at risk of HIV/AIDS,” RAAN Executive Director Charles Hempeck stated in a news release. “Many still believe this is a disease affecting only gay men. In fact, anyone can be at risk depending on their risk factors.
“HIV/AIDS is not solely an urban issue either,” Hempeck added. “Our message is get informed and get tested. It’s free and confidential.”
The public health threat from HIV is growing due to lack of public understanding about the virus, according to RAAN. The insidious aspect of HIV is that many individuals are infected, yet remain unaware and symptom-free for years, unknowingly passing the virus along to others.
RAAN has established a toll-free number for individuals with questions about HIV prevention and protection – 1-800-966-9735. Free, confidential HIV testing is available statewide.
Here are some facts about HIV/AIDS in rural Minnesota provided by RAAN:
•An estimated 25-30 percent of HIV-positive Minnesotans do not know they are infected.
•Individuals can be HIV-positive for nearly 10 years or more, unaware, symptom-free, and spreading the virus to their sexual partners.
•Approximately 13 percent of Minnesota HIV/AIDS cases are in rural areas, compared with 8 percent nationally.
•55 percent of RAAN’s clients are below the federal poverty guidelines.
Myths about AIDS
Persistent misconceptions about HIV/AIDS only compound the problem, RAAN notes. Some of the incorrect assumptions include:
•AIDS is a “gay disease,” affecting only homosexuals.
•The HIV virus is transmissible by mosquito bites.
•AIDS is curable.
•An infected person cannot pass on the virus if he/she is being treated.
•AIDS is only a problem in Africa.
•Sterile needles remain sterile even after they’re removed from the packaging and shared with other injected drug abusers.
•The birth control pill offers protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
•And HIV-positive status is an immediate death sentence.
For more information about RAAN and the services it provides across rural Minnesota, visit www.raan.org.
The Rural AIDS Action Network (RAAN) is a nonprofit, community-based organization whose mission is to organize, develop and sustain caring communities of professionals and volunteers that serve and support persons living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV/AIDS in rural Minnesota.
The organization, which serves all of rural Minnesota, maintains offices in Alexandria, Little Falls, Mankato, Bemidji, Hibbing and Mora.