With direct federal funding, the Shelby County Ryan White program was formed in 2008 to address the area's high rate of new HIV/AIDS cases. Memphis and the eight surrounding counties average 450 new cases each year. Of the region's 7,156 people living with HIV, more than 80 percent are African American.
Since an estimated 2,934 people with HIV are not receiving care, the county launched the "Know Now, Live Longer" campaign and hotline to raise the program's public profile and help people gain access to services. Those who call the hotline can speak with an HIV-positive person and medical professionals.
"We found there are a lot of people who didn't realize there were services available to help them," said Lisa Krull, contracts coordinator for the program, which is administered by the county Division of Community Services.
The campaign includes public service announcements as well as posters, billboards, and bus ads. The ads feature local residents with HIV/AIDS.
Campaign participant Alfred Velasquez was diagnosed with HIV a year ago. Soon he lost his warehouse job and his health insurance. A local news reporter worked on Velasquez' story and told him about the HIV support and service agency Friends for Life.
The referral to Friends for Life helped Velasquez enormously. He cites the agency's comprehensive services as helping him turn his life around. He now works with the Crisis Center and helps out on the county campaign's HIV/AIDS hotline. "It helped me in the long run, not holding that in. It helped me a lot," he said. "I don't know what I would have done without the Ryan White Program."
For more information, visit www.friendsforlifecorp.org.
Back to other news for October 2010
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.
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