Every 9.5 minutes someone in the United States is infected with HIV.
In Indiana 12,340 people are living with HIV/AIDS. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, meant to remember those who have died from the disease and those who live with it every day for the rest of their lives.
This year the AIDS Task Force of Northeast Indiana is trying something a little bit different to recognize World AIDS Day. It is planning several days of events Monday-Dec. 5.
Lisa Terry, executive director of the ATF, said the agency wants to reach as many people in the community as it can. By having different events on multiple days in various locations around town, the ATF believes it can both raise more awareness and educate more people about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
Terry said a whole generation of younger people exists now who are not worried about the disease and not practicing safe sex. They believe it is not the death sentence it used to be. However, while it's true medications are out there to help people live longer, healthier lives with the disease, to contract it is still a life sentence. HIV/AIDS has no cure.
Terry said a new phenomenon they are seeing now is finding the disease in nursing homes. Apparently more seniors are having sexual encounters. It's not unusual for a single man in a nursing home to have more than one partner. If they are not practicing safe sex, this can lead to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and even HIV.
In Fort Wayne most of the new cases of HIV are from men on men encounters but the number of African American women being infected with the virus is also on the rise.
The ATF has clients as young as 18 and as old as 72. Sixty-four percent of new HIV diagnosis clients at the Task Force are under 30. Since the ATF opened 368 clients have died.
Starting Nov. 26 and running through Wednesday Dec. 5, there will be an event everyday. The week begins with the “Facing /AIDS exhibit at IPFW and there will be HIV testing at Fort Wayne/Allen County Department of Health Medical Annex, by appointment from 8 a.m.-11:30a.m. and 1 p.m.-4:30. Ruby Tuesday restaurant will donate 20 percent of meals purchased to the ATF on Nov 26. Just provide the flyer to the server between 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Other highlights of the week include a red balloon release Thursday afternoon at IPFW'S Walb Student Union, and the distribution of red ribbons. Friday is red ribbon day and the ATF will provide interested businesses with ribbons, but they do make the ribbons by hand so you should call them as soon as possible to order them. On World AIDS Day there will be a celebration at After Dark nightclub, you must at least 21 years of age to attend.
The events will conclude on Wednesday, Dec 5 with a Luminous Night Service of Lament and Promise and the “Facing HIV/AIDS at Plymouth Congregational Church at 7 p.m.