BOSTON (WWLP) — Springfield and Holyoke have the third and fourth largest populations of people infected with HIV in Massachusetts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC counted nearly 2,000 people living with AIDS in Hampden and Hampshire counties at the end of 2009. More than half of those people lived in Springfield.
“We’re about four or five times higher than the rest of the state of Massachusetts in terms of the prevalence of HIV and so because of that we work really hard to work on educating young people,” said Ann Gillard, board member of the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts.
The AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts offers monthly education programs on housing, rent and financial assistance to help AIDS victims. They offer services in English and Spanish.
“We try to improve people’s education about the disease so that they can make decisions for their health and well being,” said AIDS Foundation of WMass Executive Director Jessica Crevier. “Overall our mission is dignity and helping people live with dignity who are living with HIV and AIDS.”
The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network recognized the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts at the State House for their board leadership in expanding AIDS education.
“To all of you and the assistance you provide we owe you a very big debt of gratitude,” said Sen. Therese Murray (D-Plymouth).
Last year the foundation assisted up to 125 people with financial support and spoke to about 350 people on living with AIDS and debunking the stigma around it.
This Friday the foundation is hosting a beer tasting fundraiser at the World War II Club in Northampton to raise money for AIDS.
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