Education, funding needed to combat AIDS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The number of new cases of HIV/AIDS has increased in Dallas County with 10 new cases reported. There are a total of 172 cases on record in the county. Of course, that number only reflects the cases that have been reported, and only the cases in Dallas County.

While that may seem to be a small number, the reality is that each of those cases represents an individual and a family that is facing life’s toughest challenge. The faces of those individuals are the faces of your neighbor, your friend’s child, or a co-worker’s family member.

The highest rate of growth is in African-American women between the ages of 30 and 40.

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The increase indicates a need for more education. While AIDS was a dominant topic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there has been less of an emphasis in recent years.

That’s a problem, and the increase in the number of new cases is evidence of that.

While the number of cases increased, the funding for programs has not.

Mel Prince, executive director of Selma AIDS Information & Referral, said her office needs help. Founded more than 10 years ago to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in Alabama’s Black Belt, Selma AIR has a staff of five to cover their eight-county service delivery area – the same counties as Public Health Area VII.

There is a need for hospice care, temporary housing, and for educational materials and staff.

The organization is offering the American Red Cross African American HIV Education & Prevention Instructor Course next month at Reformed Presbyterian Church. There are two prerequisites, Fundamentals of Instructor Training and Starter Facts.

HIV/AIDS is an area that still needs education, compassion and understanding.