HIV Alliance promotes continued AIDS awareness with renamed "AIDS Walk"
EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- Continuing the fight against HIV and AIDS in the Lane County community and beyond, hundreds spent their Saturday morning walking to spread awareness and raise money to help beat the disease.
HIV Alliance held its annual AIDS Walk on Saturday, May 19th, 2012, at Alton Baker Park in Eugene.
About 200 people participated in the event, which used to be called “RiverWalk.”
With a new name for the event, the HIV Alliance says now more than ever its hoping to get the message out that the community cannot forget about stopping the spread of HIV infections.
Scott Davis is one of the crucial pieces of HIV Alliance, coordinating the agency’s Needle Exchange program.
Unsanitary needles are one of the top ways people can contract HIV. However, needled exchange programs across the country, including in Lane County, are losing access to U.S. Federal Government funding.
Meanwhile, the HIV treatment costs about $600,000 per person.
"No matter what choice or life path they choose, whether they continue to use drugs or choose to get clean or choose to go to jail, as long as long as they don't have to deal with HIV or Hepatitis C at the same time.. It's really important,” says Davis.
Davis says in the last several years, HIV Alliances has not had an HIV positive test at its exchange van. Davis says the program is surviving now thanks to private donations.
Using the country of Greece as a case study, HIV Alliance says keeping the needle exchange program is important. In less than a year after cutting needle exchange program funding, Greece saw an increase in HIV infection in drug users of more than 1,200%. A more than 50% increase was noticed in HIV infection rates in the general public, according to the HIV Alliance.