Arkansas: Berryville AIDS Clinic Offers Free Treatment
January 22, 2010
In 1992, Ozarks AIDS Resources and Services was established by community members who wanted to provide HIV prevention information and free clinical services for people living with the virus. "Back then, you had to seek out the information and look everything up so you did a lot of mailings and made a lot of phone calls," said Dr. Charles Horton, who became director of the OARS clinic in 1993.
At that time, the perception was that HIV/AIDS locally was confined largely to the west side of Carroll County, Horton said. But that was a misconception: People were becoming infected throughout the county. Patients often had to drive hours to get any treatment, which was enormously expensive and thus a burden for many, he said.
Today OARS operates two Saturdays a month and it still provides its services free, including HIV tests, medicine, supplies, and education about the virus. The organization is supported entirely by donations and a triennial fundraiser. Horton, who also works at St. John's Clinic in Berryville, has never received payment for his OARS work.
"People who get it, they're not educated about it until they're forced to," Horton said. "It's not as bad as it used to be. It can get that way. The problem is that there is a complacency that has leeched back in to where people are doing risky behavior."
For more information, visit www.ozarksaids.org.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock)
01.17.2010; Rich Polikoff
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.