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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
AIDS Manasota Closing Likely to Leave a Void
Tom Bayles
October 24, 2003
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 be filled.

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 disease.

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.