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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MINNESOTA: As HIV Infection Rates Rise in Minnesota, 'Aliveness Project' Plays Santa
Mark Saxenmeyer
December 21, 2012
KSTP (Minneapolis) (12.20.12)

On December 20, at the Aliveness Project’s offices in Minneapolis, Minn., volunteers prepared to “play Santa” and deliver more than 700 boxes of holiday joy. Project Alive’s fund raising and special events director, Tim Marburger, declared that the boxes were “filled with lots of love and lots of support that will go out to our people living with HIV across the state.” Because drugs keep HIV/AIDS in check for numerous individuals, many people are not aware of the large number of persons still fighting HIV in Minnesota. Health officials say that 7,500 people have HIV in the state, and that at least 2,000 more are infected but do not realize it. The infection rate in Minnesota shows no sign of abating. The last two years have seen increases in numbers that the state has not seen since the 1990s, explains Marburger, adding that some of the groups were young men, 14 to 23 years old. For 25 years, the Aliveness Project has delivered the holiday gift boxes, through which anonymous donors adopt a family and complete their holiday wish list. Approximately one half of the gift baskets will be given to minorities: a third of which are African Americans and 15 percent of which are African immigrants. Many of the gift baskets will be donated to families with limited incomes. The children will be happy with toys, but the parents likely need more practical items, such as clothing, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies. Gift recipients mention stigma and shame being associated with having HIV. The subject of HIV is no longer widely discussed, according to an HIV-positive gay man who is on disability and is a gift box recipient. He is very grateful for the people who are talking, helping, and giving through the Aliveness Project’s holiday boxes, adding, “It means a lot. I mean, it means a lot to us.”