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AIDS Project RI Looking for Walkers, Volunteers, and Sponsors

Friday Jul 22, 2011
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PROVIDENCE, RI - It may not even be Labor Day, but AIDS Project RI executive director Thomas Bertrand is thinking October. Sunday, October 2 to be exact.

That’s when the 26th annual AIDS Walk for Life will take place at the State House lawn, and he’s looking for walkers, volunteers and sponsors.

The theme of this year’s walk is "Take Charge! Get Tested!" The goal is to promote HIV testing among all Rhode Islanders who may be at risk for HIV.

"We’re trying to involve as many people as possible in the Walk for Life because, not only is there a lot of work to do, but we’re trying to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS issues," he said.

The walk, he said, is the largest AIDS-related event in southeastern New England. "This is a regional event, so whether you live on Aquidneck Island, in South County, Northern Rhode Island, the East or West Bays, Kent County, Fall River, Attleboro or wherever--you will be warmly welcomed. We need your help!"

Money raised helps AIDS Project RI, a division of Family Service of RI, to continue to provide vital services and education needed to combat HIV/AIDS.

The walk will start and end at the State House lawn, with a course traveling through downtown Providence and the East Side. He said that he will formally announce event co-chairs and more information in upcoming weeks.

"Thirty years after the Centers for Disease Control identified the first AIDS cases in our country, the disease is still incurable, deadly, expensive, and preventable," he said.

The walk is the largest AIDS-related event in southeastern New England.

He notes that despite many recent advancements in medicine to help people living with HIV/AIDS, it’s important to remember that:

Most people with HIV will have to take medications for the rest of their lives. If they ever stop these medications, they will be at risk of dying from HIV/AIDS related diseases. These medications can include three or more drugs taken multiple times a day.

The medications used for HIV are relatively safe, but can have harmful effects on brain function, metabolism, fat distribution, cholesterol, and kidneys. Long-term effects of many of these medications are unknown.

Even when compliant with medications, individuals with HIV are still at risk for a number of illnesses and conditions, including fungal and bacterial infections and cancers.

There are still many unknowns about how aging will impact the lives of people with HIV; however, as a person ages having HIV may increase the risk of kidney, brain, and heart disease.

The estimated health care costs over a lifetime for a person newly infected with HIV is estimated at $618,900. (SOURCE: Schackman, B. Medical Care, November 2006; vol 44: pp 990-997)

To walk or donate, visit www.aidsprojectri.org or http://www.firstgiving.com/aidswalkri/rhode-island-aids-walk-for-life-2011

Or contact the walk’s manager, Amy Stein at (401) 831-5522 ext. 3196.

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