PHOENIX, Ariz. (May 20, 2021): With 15 percent of individuals infected with HIV across all cultures, ethnicities, communities, demographics and lifestyles not realizing they are infected, Aunt Rita’s Foundation’s month-long fund-raising campaign will directly support HIV testing and prevention programs and community advocacy efforts
Presented by Bank of America, the Love Aunt Rita’s Building the Legacycampaign underscores the organization’s mission to end HIV in Arizona. Nearly $10,000 toward the $50,000 goal has been raised through the website, www.LoveAuntRitas.org.
“As the result of advances in treatment over the past 30 years, HIV is now defined as a chronic manageable disease like diabetes, asthma and even depression,” said Jimmy Thomason, executive director at Aunt Rita’s Foundation. “That being said, HIV, particularly for those people unaware they are infected as well as for those who are at risk of contracting the disease, remains a challenge. That challenge is even greater today as Covid-19 creates a severe risk for individuals with weakened immune systems.”
Aunt Rita’s Foundation’s HIV testing and prevention programs include distribution of free Home HIV Test Kits, which are mailed to interested individuals in unmarked packages through GetTestedAz.org. The program also provides vouchers for confidential HIV and syphilis tests at 100 locations at Safeway stores and Sonora Quest locations statewide.
“Cases of syphilis have reached tragically high numbers despite the availability of effective treatments,” Thomason said. “Education and prevention are critical to bringing those numbers down.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since reaching an historic low in 2000 and 2001, syphilis rates have increased nearly every year among both males and females in all regions of the country and among all racial ethnic groups, including an 11.2% rise during 2018-19
Aunt Rita’s also manages the HIV and Aging Initiative to provide the rapidly aging HIV-positive community with specialized support and produces the annual AIDS Walk Arizona.