Facing Continued Challenges in AIDS

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Facing continued challenges in the AIDS epidemic, a Houston-based community advocacy organization marks 10 years of service and changes its name. The Center for AIDS: Hope & Remembrance Project will now be known as The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy to more clearly reflect its ongoing mission. In the past 4 years alone, the organization's client contacts have doubled to almost 3,000. The executive director of the organization notes, "As growing numbers of people become infected with HIV each day, we have an obligation to fight ignorance with education, stigma with compassion and disease with access to the best treatments available... Many people mistake AIDS in America as an issue of the past, but it is very much still with us and eating at the fabric of our society every day... "

Renewing its commitment to an increasingly ignored domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, The Center for AIDS (CFA) marked 10 years of service dedicated to information, education and advocacy. Founded in 1995, The CFA is a community-based, nonprofit organization specializing in the latest treatment- and disease-related information and advocating for research and accessible treatments until there is a cure for HIV/AIDS. This year, the organization has changed its name from The Center for AIDS: Hope & Remembrance Project to The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy to more clearly reflect its ongoing mission.

Executive Director Thomas Gegeny explains, “The CFA has a unique voice in the national dialogue regarding HIV/AIDS and is one of only a handful of organizations across the US dedicated solely to this kind of work on behalf of people living with the disease. A decade of work in this area has shown us that existing HIV treatments do not work for everyone, are fraught with side effects and may only be of limited duration given HIV’s ability to develop drug resistance. Staying current with the latest information and medical recommendations demands continuous attention—that’s why we are here.”

Steve Loden, chair of The CFA’s Board of Directors, noted, “In this tenth year, The CFA recognizes that while great strides have been made in keeping people with AIDS alive, we still lose friends and loved ones every day. If anything, we must redouble our efforts in finding solutions that do not involve toxic, life-long and ever-more-expensive therapies. A majority of HIV/AIDS patients in the US depends on public assistance for lifesaving medications, yet the public funding allocated is not enough to meet the need. A gap is growing between those who have access to medication and adequate care and those who do not. Add to this the stigma that HIV carries, and the problem is even more complicated.”

Through programs such as direct advocacy, education and outreach, publications and its storefront information center, The CFA provides the latest treatment and research information to persons with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers with the goal of improving the healthcare of patients and the quality of their lives. The L. Joel Martinez Information Center was dedicated in March 2004 in memory of CFA founder L. Joel Martinez, who died in 2003. Last year more than 2,800 contacts were recorded through the information center and CFA educational programs—more than double the number in 2001. CFA fact sheets and publications are available online at http://www.centerforaids.org.

“As growing numbers of people become infected with HIV each day, we have an obligation to fight ignorance with education, stigma with compassion and disease with access to the best treatments available,” Gegeny said. “Many people mistake AIDS in America as an issue of the past, but it is very much still with us and eating at the fabric of our society every day. People are dying every day. We need research, we need better treatments, we need a cure—and The CFA will not stop working until there is an end to AIDS.”

For more information regarding The Center for AIDS or to arrange an interview, contact Sara Haynes at (713) 527-8219 x103.

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