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World AIDS Day events hit home

December 01, 1998

By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




For those who think AIDS is far removed from the Tri-State area, several groups are reminding people this week that the problem can, and does, hit home.

"AIDS is still here, and it's more visible now in the rural areas," said Thom Martin, who was diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 1984.

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In Washington County, 110 AIDS cases have been reported since the Maryland AIDS Administration began keeping records in 1981.

Sixty-five cases have been reported in Franklin County, Pa., since 1980, according to the Pennsylvania Health Department.

Berkeley and Jefferson counties combined have had 110 reported cases since 1986, according to the West Virginia Bureau of Health.

Today is the 11th annual World AIDS Day.

The AIDS Network of the Tri-State is sponsoring a candlelight vigil tonight in front of McMurran Hall at Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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It's important to educate people about AIDS prevention, especially in rural areas, where people may feel they are immune, said Martin, who is on the AIDS Network board.

In recent years, medical science has come up with ways to keep people who are infected with the AIDS virus alive longer.

"The important key is to remember the disease is not yet beaten. There are some therapies that are keeping people alive longer, but there is a ways to go," said Dr. John Newby, president of the Washington County AIDS Coalition.

The coalition is sponsoring a fund-raiser today for people who are unable to work because of the disease.

Money raised through the sale of roses, carnations, T-shirts and baked goods will help those people with basic necessities such as food and housing, Newby said.

Earlier this month, the coalition raised about $1,600 in a fund-raiser at the Maryland Correctional Institution, said health department spokeswoman Betty Shank.

About 170 inmates took pledges in a 15-kilometer walk-a-thon, she said.

One inmate walked in memory of a friend who died of AIDS in 1993, she said.

The Washington County Health Department will hold three walks this week featuring children in Hagerstown in Hagerstown public housing complexes.

The first one was Monday at Noland Village.

Groups of about 150 children will gather at West View Community Center at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and at Bethel Gardens Community Building at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

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