World AIDS Day looks to men for attitude changes, solutions | CraigDailyPress.com

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World AIDS Day looks to men for attitude changes, solutions

Jane (her real name withheld upon request) is a 32-year-old single parent living and working in Craig. Last month her life fell apart when she tested positive for HIV.

“I’m terrified,” she said. “I don’t want to die. I made a mistake. I went to bed with the wrong guy. I can’t talk to anybody about this. I just don’t know what to do.”

Jane is now among the more than 34 million people worldwide who have HIV. AIDS is no longer something we can pretend doesn’t impact us. In the United States, more than 850,000 adults and children are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS 670,000 are men, 170,000 are women and 10,000 are children. One in three of those infected with HIV do not know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Red Ribbon is an international symbol worn by people throughout the year to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, and to show support for people around the world affected by HIV and AIDS.

Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day. Do you have a red ribbon?

You can get one at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) in Craig.

“We are giving out red ribbons when people wear them, they acknowledge the incredible impact AIDS has had on our world,” said VNA’s community relations coordinator, Marilyn Bouldin.

The VNA is also handing out free condoms today.

“AIDS is growing by gradual increases, and we put a lot of emphasis on prevention and education,” she said. “Our family planning clinic is run by a nurse practitioner, and we offer sliding-scale-fee exams and treatment for anyone suspecting they have a sexually transmitted disease.”

The Memorial Hospital offers counseling and confidential testing with a written order from a physician, said Heather Houseworth, The Memorial Hosptial’s Community Relations Director.

Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP) in Grand Junction is giving free HIV tests today from 3 to 7 p.m. “AIDS is growing in western Colorado,” said Jeff Basinger, WestCAP’s resource coordinator. “In the last three years we’ve seen a 30 percent increase in heterosexual cases and a 30 percent jump in female clients.”

Based in Grand Junction, WestCAP is a non-profit service provider offering non-judgmental, confidential and compassionate assistance to HIV-infected people and their families. “We have clients from 10 to 73 years old from all over western Colorado, including Moffat County all races, both genders,” Basinger said. “We provide referral and assistance for them in finding their way through the maze of care for their needs.”

World AIDS Day emerged out of the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, World AIDS Day has received the support of the World Health Assembly, the United Nations system, and governments, communities and individuals around the world. This year’s theme is “AIDS: Men Make a Difference.”

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, selected the topic of men and AIDS as the worldwide theme of World AIDS Day 2000. The organization hopes this focus will result in greater awareness of the risk of HIV/AIDS among all men, whatever their age, race or sexual orientation. It also hopes increased awareness will stimulate men to use their influence to stem the tide of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to CDC statistics, more than 70 percent of HIV infections worldwide occur through sex between men and women, and an additional 10 percent through sex between men. Another five percent or so take place among people who inject drugs, four-fifths of whom are men. Up to 50 percent of all new HIV infections in America are among those under the age of 25.

“The time is ripe to start seeing men not as some kind of problem, but as part of the solution,” said Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS. “Working witha men to change some of their attitudes and behaviors has enormous potential to slow down the epidemic and to improve the lives of men for themselves, their families and their partners.”

Basinger believes it is time for people to get accurate information about HIV/AIDS. “It’s most important for concerned community members, parents and kids to work with each other, to honestly discuss the problems that exist without judgment, and realize that new solutions are needed,” he said. “The same-old-same-old doesn’t work any more.”

A Service of Remembrance to commemorate World AIDS Day will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at Unity Center of Light, 3205 N. 12th St. in Grand Junction. There are no special public observances planned in the Moffat County area.

For more information about HIV/AIDS or screenings, call the VNA at 824-8233 or WestCAP at 1-800-765-8594.