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PUBLISHED: 1:55 PM on Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The Four A's
Alaska organization aims to educate public, provide services
The Alaska AIDS Assistance Association, began as a volunteer agency in 1985 and was incorporated in 1986, according to a statement provided by Chrissy Bell, director of development for the organization known as Fours A's.

Four A's serves 91 percent of the state of Alaska and client services include cases management, drug and alcohol counseling, transportation, psychiatric counseling, a food bank, payee representation and housing.

An office in Juneau has served Southeast Alaska for four years, said case manager Dolly England. She said along with providing services for AIDS patients, a large part of the organization's goal is aimed at prevention. This includes teaching the class HIV 101 and delivering condoms to bars and on the street.

"We are just making sure people know that there are condoms available and that they can get tested for free," England said. "It's about getting my foot in the door and telling people we are here to offer these services for free."

She said clients much test positive for HIV to receive services. Other services such as financial help for housing requires clients to be at a certain income level.

"It's really a matter of someone calling

me up. I'll do whatever I can to make sure people have the services they need," England said.

England said she currently serves about 30 clients who are kept confidential and live throughout the southeast.

"They stretch from Haines to Ketchikan and every place in between," England said. "People would be surprised by the small villages I have clients in. Those patients usually have to come to Juneau, Ketchikan or Sitka to get services."

England said she stress how important it is to be tested to catch HIV in its early stages.

"It's important to ask for a test. That is your right and responsibility," England said.

In coordination of World AIDS Day, Four A's will hold a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at the Glory Hole in downtown Juneau. England said clients will be sharing their stories and experiences at the event.

"We want to let Juneau know that we have people living here with HIV, and let those people know that we do care and we want to see change happen and for people to be more educated," England said. "It's really important that we're aware that this is the epidemic of our generation."

She said Four A's also is encouraging community members to wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day to remember those who have died to the disease and those living with it.

"It's a message to love our bodies and protect ourselves and those we love. We need to show our support," England said. "People don't need to fear those with the virus. They are normal people who just have a disease, and we need to love them and hug them."

England may be reached at 586-6089 or 888-660-2437 or send her e-mail to dengland@alaskanaids.org. The Southeast Alaska office is located at 419 Sixth St. on the third floor in Room 325 in Juneau. For more information, go online to www.alaskanaids.org.


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