30 years into the pandemic, HIV remains one of the most stigmatized, misunderstood, and feared infectious diseases to date. For this reason, AIDS Service Organizations, like the Southern NH HIV/AIDS Task Force, have become well versed in the art of maintaining a low profile, to protect the safety and confidentiality of clients. Since 1989, The Southern NH HIV/AIDS Task Force, commonly referred to as just The Task Force, has worked quietly, but effectively, in the greater Nashua community to confront the many challenges individuals face living with HIV disease and reducing risk of infection. However, World AIDS Day is the exception to the agency’s regular protocol of keeping a low profile. To commemorate World AIDS Day, the Task Force will host an open house at the agency located at 12 Amherst Street, Nashua, on November 29, 2012, beginning at 4pm. In addition to enjoying some light refreshments, members of the Nashua community can meet Task Force staff and tour the agency to learn more about the services and programs being offered. At 5:45 pm, the agency will hold its annual candlelight vigil with a reading of the names of those who have passed locally from HIV disease and its related complications. The vigil will be held at Memorial Park, across the street from the agency, at the intersection of Main Street and Amherst Street.
Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising support and awareness for those living with HIV/AIDS and those most at risk for HIV infection. As such, World AIDS Day is also an important reminder for people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done. According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS. The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world. In the US, it is estimated that there are 1.1 million people infected and 1 out of every 5 people does not know they are infected. Here in New Hampshire, Hillsborough County is home to 43% of all the HIV infections in the State, making it the epicenter of the epidemic. The Task Force provides support to roughly 120 HIV+ clients living in greater Nashua and their families. Through a collaboration with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center’s HIV Program, the agency provides free HIV rapid testing to those at risk for HIV infection, along with risk reduction counseling and educational programs to the greater Nashua area.
The Southern NH HIV/AIDS Task Force is proud to be a member of the Partnership for Successful Living, an affiliation of six human service agencies serving the greater Nashua community. The agency is open Monday – Friday, 9am to 5pm and offers support services to those living with HIV/AIDS through case management, food pantry, nutritionist, transportation to medical appointments, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and housing assistance. The agency also offers free HIV testing and risk reduction counseling to at risk men who have sex with men, members of racial and ethnic minorities, sex and needle sharing partners of HIV+ individuals, and intravenous drug users. The agency is also an educational resource to all residents living in the greater Nashua area. For more information on the agency, or HIV/AIDS, call 1-800-942-7437, or visit the agency online at www.aidstaskforcenh.org.