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Published: Sunday, 3/28/2004

David's House a big loss

The news that David's House of Compassion could close around April Fool's Day is, sadly, no joke. For 15 years the agency at Nebraska and Detroit avenues has helped hundreds of area residents with AIDS and HIV live independent lives and battle their disease with dignity.

AIDS is still with us, as are the social problems and private agonies stemming from it. But private contributions have dwindled, and David's House, which suspended its residential program a year ago in an effort to cut costs, can no longer meet its $847,000 annual budget.

And that is a blow. Americans don't think about AIDS as much as they did a few years ago. These days, media attention has turned to other recent public health threats, such as obesity, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and influenza. But anyone who thinks the problem - and the epidemic - are behind us must think again. In Lucas County alone, about 700 men and women of various races and ages live with HIV and AIDS. There are alarming signs that young people, who think the danger is past, are engaging in risky behavior.

These days, while there is still no cure, medications help AIDS patients live longer. But HIV and AIDS continue to be threats to public health, and the public still desperately needs ongoing education. For most people, it is relatively simple to lose weight, but there is no way anyone can lose the AIDS virus.

Those who work at David's house know this. The agency has 500 clients in several northwest Ohio counties who have HIV or AIDS, and counsel nearly twice that many family members. Many of the ill will still need help managing such basics as medications, food, home visits, and housing.

Efforts are under way to rally community support to save David's House, but the agency's future remains problematic.

As we lament the possibility of losing an organization that has served the community well, David's House officials remain hopeful as they explore combining with another organization or trying to continue on its own.

It will be sad if David's House closes, but the tragic reality is that AIDS is still open for business.

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