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Over 100 participate in AIDS Walk at Ritter Park

May 21, 2019

HUNTINGTON — More than 100 people wanting to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Huntington took part in the 2019 AIDS Walk at Ritter Park on Sunday.

“This is our 20th year for the AIDS Walk,” said Lisa Cremeans, a volunteer with the Tri-State AIDS Task Force. “It’s a beautiful day for folks in the community to join a relaxing walk through beautiful Ritter Park for those who care about those living with HIV/AIDS in our region.”

The Tri-State AIDS Task Force as an organization receives no local, state or federal funding to offset client service expenditures such as medication co-pays, rental security deposits, dental assistance and food and utility assistance.

“The walk raises funds to assist those in the community with HIV or AIDS,” Cremeans explained. “Walkers get sponsors and also make their own contributions to support this effort.”

Thomas Ramey, with Southwestern Community Action Council, was one of the walkers participating in the event.

“The Tri-State AIDS Task Force has stepped up to help us and many others to do whatever it takes to make people more

comfortable, healthy and feel more a part of the community,” Ramey said. “So we absolutely want to show our support for their goals and mission.”

Cremeans said the goals of the event are to focus on testing and early detection.

“Early detection is essential in living with HIV,” she said.

The event raises awareness and education to the community regarding the disease, while also raising much-needed funds to support programs and services offered by the organization.

Earlier this year, an active HIV cluster of dozens of known cases was confirmed in Cabell County, primarily among the area’s population of intravenous drug users, according to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

Ramey was quick to point out that not all of the HIV/AIDS cases are intravenous drug users.

“I think one of the most powerful things we can do as service providers is to continue to talk about the severity of this disease and how spreading this disease occurs, because anyone can end up facing this type of situation,” he said. “Getting this disease is not always about a lapse in judgment or a bad decision; many times people can get it accidentally. Regardless, we need to show these folks love, respect and that we care about them.”

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.