The San Pedro AIDS Commission (SPAC) was formed with the vision of promoting awareness, prevention and care of HIV/AIDS to the community of San Pedro. The main focus of the commission during the first years of existence was promoting awareness through the promotion of activities that celebrated World Aids Day, which is observed on December 1st each year. The day is set aside to do a solidarity walk for people infected, those that have passed and for the families of individuals infected.

The SPAC, with its active team of over 22 members is at its strongest point. The commission is divided into three different committees; prevention and care, education and information and a financial subcommittee.

Through various fund raising activities as well as personal contributions and community support the team has been able to maintain a revolving bank account and in the past six months have been able to offer over seven thousand dollars in assistance to individuals living with HIV/AIDS and towards HIV/AIDS education.

In an interview with Mr. Felix Ayuso, president of the San Pedro HIV/AIDS Commission he gave us a break down of moneys spent by the commission. From January to June 2011 the commission has spent a total of $7383.50. $4,200 went directly to HIV patients to be used in various ways. The financial assistance is used for traveling expenses for mental and medical attention, rental assistance, assistance with food and nutrition and other needs. While Antiretrovirals are free in the country of Belize, some infected individuals, due to their condition are incapable of working and need further assistance; the commission reportedly spent $757.50 in assisting infected individual with their medical expenses.

The commission is working very hard in increasing visibility as well as providing information on preventative care. In this effort, Mr. Ayuso informed The Sun that the commission spent $2425.96 on Visual Aids, including a Video commercial, flyers, printed media and new bracelets. This brings the commission’s expenditures to a total of $7383.46.

The commission hopes to increase the voluntary testing drives from once a year to four times a year as well as have its members attend the various informational workshops and HIV/AIDS related trainings. Two locations have been identified for HIV/AIDS murals, one along the Caribeña fence and a second on the San Pedro Lions Club fence. The commission is seeking the assistance of artists from the community as well as donors for paint and painting materials.

The commission takes this opportunity to thank the community, business community and the individuals that are always there supporting every fundraiser held. Mr. Ayuso encourages individuals infected or if you are a family member or a friend of an infected individual to please take note that there are resources readily available at no cost to you. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. Like other diseases, treatment is available; and with the proper treatment, change in lifestyle, exercise and knowledge about the disease, individuals can now LIVE A FULL LIFE with the disease. For further information, contact AIDS Commission President Felix Ayuso at 662-9922.

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