AIDS in the Valley

By: Shane Symolon Email
By: Shane Symolon Email

Saturday is World AIDS Day, and around the globe people will be remembering those who have fallen to the deadly virus.

It's not just a problem that’s far away. Valley Aids Network worker Tony Sierra is getting ready for World AIDS Day, by grabbing information packets and putting together red ribbons because the fight against AIDS is happening everywhere, including the Valley.

"AIDS globally is on the increase but particularly in the rural south east, has the highest new AIDS case rate in the country," says Sierra.

Currently, the Valley AIDS Network has 68 clients, but they say the real number of people that are HIV positive is much higher.

Sierra says, "It's been estimated that out of every one person, ten to 12 times that many have it. That's because people don't go in for testing, lack of access to health care, lack of access to education."

Sierra says that lack of education has also led to discrimination.

"When this person disclosed to the dental office people and the dentist, they were sent a letter asking them not to return, and they weren't allowed services there again," says Sierra.

But there is hope that the problem can be slowed by continuing to get the word out.

"Education is power. Knowledge is power. So you have to take control of your health. It's your responsibility, and as a citizen it's your responsibility to protect the greater population," says Sierra.

On Saturday, the Valley AIDS Network will be hosting an event for World AIDS Day on the James Madison University campus. The event starts at 6 p.m. in the Health and Human Services Building.


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