Michigan Community Leaders Facing AIDS on World AIDS Day
December 1, 2011
Today CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services) is participating in World AIDS Day by participating in the National Facing AIDS campaign. The campaign asks people to hold up a sign on why they are Facing AIDS and get their photo taken. CARES has created a photo installation out of these pictures and has decorated our entryway to create awareness for this campaign.
HIV has been with us for 30 years now. We have seen a lot of changes to this pandemic since its beginning. Now with treatment people living with HIV can live full lives without developing the illnesses that defined HIV in the past. In fact, treatment even reduces the chance of passing HIV on to uninfected partners. We live in very hopeful times. If everyone infected with HIV gets into treatment, we could see the end of AIDS.
Unfortunately right here in Southwest Michigan, HIV is still a death sentence for many. About half of those infected with HIV in our area are not receiving life sustaining treatment. About a quarter of those who are infected do not even know it yet. The barriers to getting people tested and treated are many and complex, but we recognize that stigma is one of the greatest problems. Because people are afraid of how they will be treated once others know they are HIV positive.
Community Leaders such as State Representative Sean McCann, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and other city commissioners are featured in our Facing AIDS photo installation. When a community leader stands up and says, I am willing to fight AIDS, it gives confidence and support to the people living with HIV. This photo installation represents our community coming together in the fight against AIDS.
The Facing AIDS project gives us an opportunity to show support for those living with HIV, and reminds all of us that while great improvements have been made, we need to continue to Face AIDS and commit to fighting stigma. Will you join us? Go to our Facebook page and like the CARES page. Then take a picture with your sign that says "I am Facing AIDS" ... and post it on our wall. Show the community that you will join us in the fight against AIDS. Check out CARES case manager Rakesha Groves with her nephew sharing their "Facing AIDS" message.
This article was provided by Community AIDS Resource and Education Services.
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