Testing for HIV Critical, says Governor

HIV/AIDS is still very much a threat, says Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, and he’s concerned that the prevention message is not being heard.

“Prevention is key,” said the Governor.  “That’s the theme of this year’s AIDS Walk for Life, and I’m hoping as many people as possible will attend to raise awareness and to raise money to fight HIV and AIDS,” he said.

HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).  HIV damages the body by destroying blood cells that help fight infections.

The Governor and First Lady Stephanie Chafee, one of Rhode Island’s first nurses to work exclusively with AIDS patients, are honorary co-chairs of the Sunday, October 2 AIDS Walk for Life.  Funds raised benefit AIDS Project Rhode Island, which offers a range of services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Project RI Executive Director Thomas Bertrand praised Governor and Mrs. Chafee for their commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS.  “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20% to 30% of individuals infected with HIV don’t know their status.  The support of Governor and Mrs. Chafee will be extremely helpful in our efforts to expand HIV testing to help people learn their status.”

“HIV remains a persistent public health problem,” Mr. Bertrand said.  “Over the past 10 years there have been over 100 new HIV infections every year in Rhode Island.  We’re asking every Rhode Islander to help us get this number under 100 in upcoming years. The fact is HIV/AIDS is potentially deadly, extremely expensive to treat, and totally preventable.”

“Take Charge! Get Tested!” is the theme for this year’s October 2 AIDS Walk for Life, which begins with registration at 9 a.m. and kicks off at 10 a.m.  More than 500 walkers are expected to travel the 3.08 mile route, which begins on the State House lawn and travels to Wickenden Street in the Fox Point neighborhood before circling back on South Main Street and eventually back to the State House.  Register for the walk by clicking here.

Rapid HIV testing will be available at the event, as will the AIDS Quilt. “Walkers will be able to walk with a quilt panel if they wish,” said Amy Stein, the walk’s manager.  Entertainment will be by “The 18 Wheelers” from The Wheeler School, and NBC 10’s Barbara Morse Silva will emcee.

She thanked event co-chairs Guy Abelson and Josiah Rich, MD, MPH, the event committee and the sponsors, which include Cardi’s Furniture, Euclid/Gili, MetLife, the City of Providence, McLaughlin & Moran, Tabor Academy, and AAA Southern New England.  Media sponsors include NBC 10, Clear Channel, Eastside Monthly, Providence Monthly, SO Rhode Island, The Bay, Options Magazine, The Rainbow Times, and the Jewish Voice and Herald.  In-kind sponsors include: BJ’s, Stop & Shop, Shaw’s, Whole Foods, Eastside Market, Munroe Dairy, Starbucks, and Eastside Chiropractic.

She also thanked the honorary committee, headed by Governor and Mrs. Chafee: Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts; Senator Jack Reed; Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Congressman Jim Langevin; Congressman David Cicilline; Attorney General Peter Kilmartin; General Treasurer Gina Raimondo; Secretary of State Ralph Mollis; Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed; Speaker of the House Gordon Fox; Providence Mayor Angel Taveras.