May 10, 2012
A support group has formed for people with HIV/AIDS in the Grand Forks region. At a recent gathering, members spoke about their fears: fear of spreading HIV, fear of catching colds and other infections due to weakened immune systems, and other people's fear of acquiring HIV through casual contact.
"People are fearful that if I touch them they'll get sick and die," said Jerry Makowsky, the East Grand Forks man who formed the group. "You cannot get this disease through casual contact. You cannot get it by sitting down for lunch with someone, shaking hands, or sharing a restroom or a drinking fountain."
"All kinds of people can contract HIV, from newborns to grandparents, men and women," said Roger Ernst, outreach coordinator for St. Cloud-based Rural AIDS Action Network. They "need support as much as people who have heart disease or diabetes," he said.
About the support group, Makowsky said, "I have it for a reason, and that is to educate people. If I can save a person's life, my work is done."
[PNU editor's note: For more information about the support group, telephone Makowsky at 218-230-1396.]