More than 30 million people live with HIV today and over one million of them became infected last year alone.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, an Idaho Falls group is raising money to help those living with HIV/AIDS in eastern Idaho.
Friday night’s event is a vital part of Breaking Boundaries. The AIDS memorial quilt is on display and new Idaho panels will be unveiled and added to the quilt.
All of the funds raised will go toward HIV/AIDS support, awareness, education and prevention activities.
“There are approximately 1,336 people in the state of Idaho living with HIV,” said Jen Walton, HIV consultant with Eastern Idaho Public Health District.
Numbers like that motivated Breaking Boundaries to set up this fundraiser 11 years ago.
“Our mission is to help them live a life of independence and dignity,” said Theron McGriff, Breaking Boundaries president. “We help them pay for their medicines, doctor bills, rent, anything we can do to help them because oftentimes they’re living on a very restricted budget.”
Medicines to help control the virus can cost upwards of $1,800 a month and depending on health insurance, those infected end up having to pay for them out of pocket.
“HIV is very prevalant in east Idaho,” said McGriff. “We work with District 6 & 7. Currently we have over 250 clients that we are helping through those districts.”
According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, there are 107 people living with the virus in District 7 — that’s the Idaho Falls area. 137 in District 6 — which includes Shelley, Blackfoot and Pocatello. And 582 people in District 4, which is the Boise area.
“And these are only known, identified cases. So, if you take this and do the math – one in five people who are HIV positive are suspected of not knowing, then of course our numbers would rise,” said Walton.
The Center for Disease control recommends everyone get tested for HIV at least once. Results are ready in just 15 minutes after a quick finger prick.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS but with routine care and positive lifestyle changes, a person can live a full life with the illness.