AUGUSTA, Maine — Hundreds of Mainers will take to the streets this weekend for the annual AIDS Walks.
Organized by Maine Community AIDS Partnership, the AIDS Walk will raise money for organizations that provide prevention programming and care to people living with HIV throughout Maine and southern New Hampshire.
Many of the participating organizations are represented by walk locations: Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Lewiston-Auburn, Machias, Ogunquit, Portland and Portsmouth, N.H.
Walkers throughout the state are creating teams or walking individually, and they are seeking pledges for their efforts. This year, anyone can pledge an individual or a team through www.AIDSWalkWeekend.com.
Organizers expect the walks will raise more than $100,000 for HIV prevention services across Maine, with half coming from support here in the community and the other half from a challenge grant with the National AIDS Fund.
Just as important as raising money for the organizations, say organizers, is raising awareness that HIV-AIDS is still a serious problem in Maine: More people are living with HIV-AIDS in Maine than ever before, and funding for care, prevention and education has not kept pace with needs of the organizations that provide help to those living with the virus.
More than 1,200 people in Maine are living with HIV, according to Maine Community AIDS Partnership. Testing for HIV continues to be one of the best ways to prevent its spread. As many as 500 people in Maine may be infected with HIV and don’t know their status. More startling statistics show that a majority of people now testing positive for HIV are simultaneously testing positive for AIDS, proof that they may have been living with the virus for many years.
For more information on how to join the AIDS Walk Weekend, or to make a contribution, connect to www.AIDSWalkWeekend.com.
For more information about each of the local walks, use the following contacts:
— Augusta, Maine AIDS Alliance, Andrew Bossie, 899-9983
— Bangor, Eastern Maine AIDS Network, Patsy Murphy, 990-3626
— Brunswick, Merrymeeting AIDS Services, Diane Rosenthal, 577-8178
— Ellsworth-Machias, Down East AIDS Network, Steven Richards, 667-3506
— Lewiston-Auburn, Western Maine Community Action, Nancy Audet, 795-4007
— Ogunquit, Frannie Peabody Center, Jacob Roberson, 838-4490
— Portland, Frannie Peabody Center, Jacob Roberson, 838-4490
— Portland Public Health, Andrew Jones, 874-8446