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New group forms to provide services to HIV/AIDS patients

In an effort to help save lives, a new organization has been formed in Halifax County, the Halifax County AIDS Service Organization (HCASO). The organization’s mission since its formation in December is to provide services to persons affected or infected with HIV/AIDS in Halifax County and surrounding areas.

According to Cindy Sullins, founder of the AIDS Service Organization, currently 87 cases of HIV are documented in Halifax County, and most of these people have to travel to larger cities to receive services because no services are available in the county to help with transportation or medication assistance as well as a compassionate ear to listen.

“The Halifax County AIDS Service Organization hopes to change all that. I was an AIDS educator in the early 1990s, and I lost a lot of friends to this disease. We are hoping through community education and providing these needed services, we can ultimately save lives. We are hoping to de-stigmatize this illness and replace fear and ignorance with love and compassion,” said Sullins.

Sullins said God has given her a vision and reawakened a passion within her to work with persons affected by HIV/AIDS.

“There is such a need here, and this presents a great opportunity,” she said.

But the organization may be only a precursor to Sullins’ plans.

Currently she is studying at Old Dominion University to be a nurse practitioner in hopes of one day being able to open a clinic to serve persons with HIV/AIDS.

“This may serve as a bridge for me to open my clinic one day,” she said.

Sullins said her inspiration for starting the service organization came to her during a vacation to Myrtle Beach, S. C.

“I was having lunch with a friend who I had not seen in 20 years, and he told me about the work he was doing with AIDS/HIV. I had already gone back to school, and I knew then this was all part of God’s plan for me. I am hoping over the next four years to meet these people through this organization and then one day I may be able to serve them in the clinic,” she said looking to her future plans and goals.

The newly-formed organization is currently in the process of trying to establish non-profit status so it can provide funding for services. Unfortunately that can be a very lengthy and expensive process, so the organization is planning several fundraising events to help raise money, she said.

The organization recently participated in the Community Fair at Mary Bethune, and the next event planned is the Healthy Living Expo at the high school on Sunday, March 18, from 1 to 4 p.m.

Additional events planned include an auction barbecue dinner and 50/50 raffle at American Legion Post 8 on Friday, April 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. Also, a Health Nite Out at Halifax Regional Hospital on Thursday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. will include an HIV panel discussion with various people affected by or infected with HIV represented.

The organization is selling T-shirts for $12, and all of the proceeds from all events will be used to provide services for those affected by or infected with HIV in Halifax County.

The organization meets the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Fuller Roberts conference room at Halifax Regional Hospital.

“We are in need of volunteers who want to get involved and make a difference,” Sullins said.

LEARN MORE

For more information about the organization, interested persons can contact Cindy L. Sullins at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 434-476-7787 or 434-579-5369.

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