Memorial provides support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Tuc - Tucson News Now

Memorial provides support for people living with HIV/AIDS in Tucson

Posted: Updated:
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The names of loved ones lost to AIDS are called out Sundaynight, while quilts of friends and family members rest on the ground in HimmelPark.

The 32nd International Aids Candlelight Memorial remembersthose who have died of AIDS and who continue to live with it now, like CurtBeall.

"We haven't forgotten," he said. "We're still in this fightand it continues on this day."

Beall performed an original song for crowds of people. Hesaid AIDS awareness may not be what it was in years past, but the stigma ofliving with the disease remains strong.

"It's still an issue these days even though it's been aroundfor so long," said Beall. "It's not an easy disease to get and I think peopleneed to be a little better educated on that."

Ethan Smith Cox, Director of Development for SouthernArizona AIDS Foundation, said a lack of education is a possible cause for a continuousstream of new cases.

"There are people testing positive in Pima County everymonth," he said.

Most of the positive tests recently are coming from teensand twenty-something's, according to Smith Cox.

"We're seeing a lot of youth right now at really an alarmingrate," he said.

But it's not just a concern for the next generation, but thecurrent one as well. Smith Cox said middle aged folks are testing positive inhigher numbers than before.

There are more than 2,400 people in Pima County living withHIV or AIDS, according to the State Health Department's 2013 annual report.Nearly half of those people are considered ‘unmet need,' which means they haveno record of lab tests, a doctor's visit or prescription for HIV medication.

Members of the HIV/AIDS community stress the importance ofeducating yourself and taking a test to be sure.

"There are doctors available to help you out," said Beall. "Themedicines are able to keep you alive, so that it's not a death sentence."

Roughly 2,000 people a year take free and confidential testsat Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, according to Smith Cox. Agencies like theTucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network provide support as well.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow