W.Va. residents mark AIDS Day

December 02, 1996


Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - About 10 people joined in a walk from the public square in Martinsburg Sunday night to the Christ Reformed United Church of Christ as part of worldwide effort to shed light on the AIDS epidemic.

Mary and Mel Arvin of Martinsburg lit candles with the group at the East Burke Street church as part of a open discussion about what needs to be done to fight the disease.

The couple's 26-year-old son Todd died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome last year after he contracted the disease through a blood product, his mother said. He received the tainted medication while being treated for hemophilia.


Mary Arvin said her mission now is to make sure her seven grandchildren are educated about the disease.

"Our son had everything to live for," said Mel Arvin.

Others in the group vowed to increase the amount of information available in the community about AIDS prevention, and become advocates for people who have the disease.

Thomas E. Hartshorn, pastor of the Christ Reformed United Church of Christ and one of the organizer's of the event, said people in the Eastern Panhandle are being exposed to a much greater AIDS threat than other state residents.

There are just under 700 AIDS cases in West Virginia, but in neighboring Pennsylvania, there are 15,000 cases, said Hartshorn, president of the AIDS Network of the Tri-State Area, a nonprofit group that provides AIDS prevention education to an eight-county area.

Virginia has about 8,000 AIDS cases, and in Washington, D.C., there are another 8,000 people with the disease, Hartshorn said.

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