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Here's Hope and the AIDS Epidemic in the South
Date:8/25/2008

I was working in Miami, renting a room, and getting by alone. Then my body started breaking down. Because of my weak HIV-positive system, my diabetes and my hypertension kicked up and I couldn't work. I couldn't make rent, so I ended up homeless. The South Florida AIDS Network led me to Here's Hope and that's where it all turned around and I learned to live with the virus - Orville, 2008

MIAMI, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was issued today by The USA Salvation Army Southern Territory:

Located in Miami, a city with the highest rates of new AIDS diagnoses in the U.S. in 2006 (41.9 per 100,000 people), Here's Hope is a critical resource for people like Orville who have nowhere to turn. Many keep their HIV status a secret from friends and family for fear of being rejected. Most are dealing with other issues at the same time including drug addiction and/or poverty among others. So "learning to live with the virus" for Orville and others means much more than staying alive; it means talking freely about the fears that come with having HIV; tackling the other issues in their life with advice and counseling from Here's Hope staff; it means starting over.

In October 2008, The Salvation Army will hold the Southern Territorial Social Services Conference, titled Dance upon Injustice: Affirming Human Dignity and Worth, to discuss and address social justice issues including HIV/AIDS. Through this forum, volunteers, staff, and officers of The Salvation Army will gather together to learn about community needs in the South and discuss strategies for The Salvation Army to address them as the largest provider of social services in the U.S. aside from the government. Here's Hope will be highlighted as an HIV/AIDS program that is serving those most in need.

Through Here's Hope, The Salvation Army provides transitional housing, meals, case management, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous support groups, individual drug and alcohol counseling, HIV education, life skills, English as Second Language (ESL) classes, and health care to people infected by HIV/AIDS. The program currently serves 73 clients, most of whom are Latino and/or African American. That is, those the virus is hitting hardest both in Miami as well as across the Southern U.S. Three representatives from the program will attend the Territorial Social Services Conference in October to talk about their experiences and commitment to the response to HIV/AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data released in March, six of the ten states with the highest AIDS case rates per 100,000 people in 2006 were in the South: District of Columbia (146.7), Maryland (29.0), Florida (27.3), Louisiana (19.2), Georgia (17.1), and South Carolina (16.3). The CDC also estimates that 25% of Americans who are HIV-positive do not know their status.

Like many other HIV/AIDS programs in the South, Here's Hope is crowded and in need of additional funding, as service providers try to meet a growing need with few resources. As Orville states, "Here's Hope is a great program and I hope it goes on forever, but we need permanent funding for that. I hope that by telling my story, people will realize how important the need is for us. I also hope that it will help those in denial about the virus to get tested and get help".

To find an HIV testing site near you, text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948). To learn more about Here's Hope and ways you can support them, contact Ms. Carol Davis at Carol_Davis@uss.salvationarmy.org. To learn more about HIV/AIDS in the U.S., visit http://www.AIDS.gov.


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SOURCE The USA Salvation Army Southern Territory
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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