CAARAC: 30 Years From Here – December 5

By on 27 November, 2013 in City Living, Interviews, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

The holiday season is upon us, and along with the usual exhortations to consecrate family and consumerism, there is also a great part of the season involving celebration, thankfulness, and paying attention to those who have less than we do. In this vein, we thought it was noteworthy to spotlight one local charity that is having an event on December 5. We’d like to encourage you to attend. For more information, we interviewed Shakita Jones, the Executive Director of the Central Alabama AIDS Resource and Advocacy Center (CAARAC).

MML: What is CAARAC?
Our mission is to serve individuals, families and communities in Central Alabama and the Black Belt areas through meaningful HIV/AIDS prevention education programs and direct supportive services performed with compassion and care to those living with HIV/AIDS.  We strive to promote hope, tolerance and social justice for all people affected by HIV/AIDS.

MML: Why did you start it?
Jones: Central Alabama AIDS Resource & Advocacy Center was formed by six like-minded individuals who saw HIV as a human rights issue, identified needs in the HIV community and wanted to be able to meet those needs through education, advocacy and compassionate social services. Three of these folks have an extensive history of serving people with HIV as social workers; two are attorneys working as advocates for low-income and underserved populations.  We got started in June of 2010 and received our 501 c(3) status in January 2012.

MML: What’s next for CAARAC?
Jones: Our goal is to serve individuals, families and communities in central Alabama and the black belt areas through meaningful HIV/AIDS prevention education programs and direct supportive services performed with compassion and care to those living with HIV/AIDS.  Our free services include HIV testing (more details at, condom distribution, youth & adult HIV prevention education programs, social and emotional support for newly-diagnosed HIV patients, linkage to medical and community resources for HIV patients and education resources for those living with HIV.Central Alabama AIDS Resource & Advocacy Center will also assist existing organizations and private practice physicians with home-based (or office-based for private physicians, if desired) follow-up care, adherence education, linkage to community resources, assess and assist with transportation needs, and we identify a contact person in each county being served to expand efforts for HIV/AIDS prevention education and resources. We also refer newly-diagnosed people to appropriate medical facilities, and work with those currently infected with HIV to seek or return to care while assessing their barriers and addressing them as appropriate. We also continuously work to identify the needs of rural Alabamians who are living with HIV and advocate for those needs to community members and elected officials.

CARAAC Director Shakita Jones

MML: What’s the fund-raiser and why should people want to come?
Jones: In observance of World AIDS Day, CAARAC will be hosting a viewing of a great movie called 30 Years From Hereon Thursday, December 5 at The Capri. This movie looks at HIV/AIDS over a 30 year time period, examining advocacy efforts, as well as real life accounts about people who have been underserved due to bad public policies. It’s a documentary and looks at how this nondiscriminatory disease has affected many lives over many years. It has personal accounts from people who were there in the beginning and have seen both the sorrow over lives lost and the hope generated by advances in medical research. Activists, medical experts, and people who were on the ground describe their stories from the war on AIDS.

The cost is $10 with a reception at 5:30 p.m. (food and cash bar), and the movie will start promptly at 6:30 p.m. Please let us know if you are interested and spread the word. Tickets are on sale now!

The theme for World AIDS Day 2013 is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” So, we really hope people will give thanks and then also come and try to give to those who need some help and attention.

You can watch the trailer to the film here.

MML:Anything else you want people to know?
Jones: We envision reaching every corner of Central Alabama and the Black Belt areas to do HIV testing, education and to provide needed services to those infected and affected by HIV in hopes of alleviating barriers to care and improving quality of life. HIV/AIDS funding in Alabama is limited, but being very well utilized to serve people in existing programs but more funding is needed to meet the needs of those in rural areas. Our services will be a small investment in comparison to the cost of ignoring the growing problem of increased HIV infections, health disparities and barriers to care for those living with HIV and their communities. For more, we have a Facebook page that people can “like” for regular updates and information.

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