Tulsa CARES Executive Director R. Shannon Hall addresses the supporting patrons of the 2015 annual Red Ribbon Gala event held Saturday, March 7th.
In his speech, he cites the struggle our community faces in fighting the spread of HIV.
“Today, HIV/AIDS can still be devastating; there’s no cure. But with the proper treatment, it’s not necessarily an automatic death sentence. There’s the blessing of longer life spans, and with that, the challenges we face have changed since those early years [of the HIV/AIDS epidemic]. Because ignorance still stigmatizes the disease and because the disease strikes the poor with twice the frequency as others, we have to fight a long battle to keep our clients in care. And if we’re successful, together with our clients, the chances of passing the infection can drop by 96 percent. But the struggle, the struggle to keep clients in care, and to lower the risk of further infection, is tough. Shelter and nutrition insecurities, mental health issues, substance abuse problems, and unemployment stand in our way. Tulsa CARES is their bridge to a better life.”