Congresswoman Gets Tested for HIV as Part of World AIDS Day

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December 1, 2006


In observance of World AIDS Day, Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be tested for HIV today in Oakland, using one of the many services available to East Bay residents concerned about HIV and AIDS.
California has the second-highest number of AIDS cases in the country after New York, according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, but it also has some of the best support services available, especially in the Bay Area, said Bongane Nyathi, the education and prevention director at AIDS Project East Bay.

‘College campuses add to the progressive nature of California, especially UC Berkeley,’ Nyathi said.

Eight UC Berkeley students currently volunteer at AIDS Project East Bay, developing educational and prevention materials. One of them, Crystal Dow, got involved through a public health class she took at UC Berkeley.

‘The outreach missions interest me most because testing can save lives,’ she said.

Dyathi said the progressive nature of the Bay Area lends itself to a better culture for treatment.

‘In Southern states the condemnation of homosexuality is always intertwined with AIDS and HIV treatment?even if you are not gay and you have contracted HIV, your sexuality is questioned,’ Nyathi said.

Nyathi added that ideas such as legalizing medicinal marijuana for AIDS patients set California apart.

‘Holistic support for people living with HIV or AIDS is important here,’ she said. ‘In other states it would be seen as promoting drugs.’

Services in the Bay Area, including the Berkeley Free Clinic on Durant Avenue, provide HIV testing and treatment as well as social support groups.

According to the Alameda County Public Health Department, from 1980 to 2005 there were a total of 618 reported cases of AIDS in Berkeley out of a total 6,860 in the county.


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