Sarasota Herald-Tribune (10.24.03) - Friday, October 24, 2003
Next week, after helping thousands of HIV/AIDS patients since
1987, the Sarasota-based nonprofit AIDS Manasota will lock its
doors for good.
"A lot of our support in the early years was with people with
AIDS and their families in the last few months of their
lives," said Debbie Roginski, director of AIDS Manasota. "A
lot of the support left as the drugs got better and they had
to think about going back to work." Last year, the facility
served about 250 people, less than half the number annually
during the early 1990s. The center operated this past year on
$300,000, mostly through public donations and fund-raisers.
AIDS Manasota's directors are searching for other agencies to
fill the void. Many agency patients have no insurance and
cannot afford private medical care. Some worry the void cannot
AIDS Manasota provided information about HIV, drug testing
programs and the latest medical and holistic treatments. But
most importantly, officials said, it provided support to
patients to cope with the physical and mental trauma of the
Manasota's closing reflects a trend, said Roginski. Florida
Division of Corporations records show a majority of nearly 65
AIDS service providers statewide are now inactive.
Trinity Charities, run by the Rev. Nancy Wilson of Sarasota's
Church of the Trinity, will take over some programs, including
the monthly nutrition lectures, advice on purchasing
discounted supplements, and pet care services for people with
AIDS. Free HIV tests, medical help, counseling and referrals
can still be obtained in Sarasota at the Community AIDS
Network, 1231 N. Tuttle Ave., and the Sarasota County Health
Department, 2200 Ringling Blvd. In Venice, people can go to
the South County Specialty Clinic, 7810 S. Tamiami Trail.