HIV Cases Still Prevalent in Maine 

Joy Hollowell

It’s a life threatening disease with no known cure.AIDS continues to claim the lives of Mainers, despite the fact it’s preventable.The Eastern Maine AIDS Network in Bangor is on the front lines of the battle.Sean Weber is the Program Director for Eastern Maine AIDS Network. The grassroots organization has been around since 1987.”It’s not like this is a brand new disease,” says Weber. “It’s out there, it’s learned in schools, in high schools and colleges. And so we’re baffled as to why the numbers just keep increasing.”Recently, EMAN joined forces with Penobscot Community Health Care.”Because of financial reasons throughout the United States and the state of Maine- it made it viable to become part of the agency to help with bigger grants that we’ll be able to attract,” Weber explains.Weber says funding for EMAN continues to dwindle, and there is concern about what cuts will come with the new administration in Augusta. “We’ve tested more positives this year than we have lear year or the year before,” says Weber. “That’s not the way you want it.”There is one group that is seeing a decrease in HIV positive cases- intravenous drug users. Weber believes EMAN’s needle exchange program is a big reason why. Last year, the agency handed out 78,000 clean needles.”This disease is not going away,” says Weber. “And people think that because it’s not in the news, that oh, it’s over with. And it’s not. We are still testing people, younger people, older people, men, women, and they’re still coming up positive.”On Saturday, EMAN will host its biggest fundraiser of the year, The Red Ribbon Ball.There will be live music, dancing, food and a silent auction.The fun kicks off at 7 p.m. at Spectacular Event Center in are still available.For more information, you can call EMAN at 990-3626 or log on to