Good Life

Helping Hands: Agency offers support to those living with AIDS/HIV

AIDS Resource Alliance, Inc. was formed in 1988 by community members who were concerned about the plight of people dying from AIDS in Lycoming County. As the virus and its treatment have evolved, so, too, has the work of the agency.

In the early years of AR, the agency’s efforts focused on helping clients to die with dignity and in comfort by helping them gain access to home health and hospice care. However, as more effective treatments dramatically increased the life expectancy of those infected with HIV, the agency’s mission expanded to include linking clients with the resources they need to live with HIV/AIDS and to provide prevention, education and testing to at-risk populations.

Jennifer South, case manager for Centre and Clinton counties, assists people who live with HIV/AIDS by assessing their needs and connecting them with services to meet those needs. Some of the services provided directly through AR’s programs include:

• financial assistance for medication, utilities and other emergency needs

• housing assistance

• food

• nutritional supplements

• transportation to medical appointments

• emotional support.

Through referral and advocacy, AR also assists clients by providing them with access to medical care, dental care and legal aid.

South also hosts a support group for clients of AIDS Resource on the second Thursday of each month from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at her office, 129 S. Sparks St., Suite 1, State College, PA 16801. Contact Smith at 272-0818 or for more inrformation. The support group is confidential and provides a platform to discuss issues with others living with HIV.

AIDS Resource offers prevention, education and outreach to individuals and groups at schools, colleges, drug and alcohol facilities, correctional facilities, health fairs, businesses and homes throughout five counties.

The education is presented through interventions that have been proven effective by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their research has shown that positive behavior change and/or health outcomes are a result of these interventions. The education focuses on HIV/STDs, risk-reduction behaviors, effective communication, negotiation skills and condom use.

In addition, AIDS Resource offers free and confidential HIV and STD (chlamydia and gonorrhea) testing. For more information, contact Erik Fetter at 570-322-8448, ext. 17, or at

AIDS Resource appreciates support and donations, which can be made to its Williamsport location through Executive Director Kirsten Burkhart, c/o AIDS Resource, 500 W. Third St., Williamsport, PA 17701. Call 570-322-8448 or toll-free at 800-773-AIDS for more information.