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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | September 2008 

An Amazing Week With V.E.S.
email this pageprint this pageemail usEd Thomas - PVNN


Upcoming VES Health Fair Events

• Sunday, September 28th, 10 am-2 pm, Colonia Ixtapa Plaza Principal

• Saturday, October 11th, 10 am-2 pm, Plaza Principal, Colonia Las Palmas

• Friday, October 17th, 10 am-2 pm, San Salvador and Brasilia, Colonia 5 de Diciembre

• Sunday, October 26th, 10 am-2 pm, Unidad Deportiva Jardines, Colonia Jardines

• Sunday, November 2nd, 10 am-2 pm, Manantial and Lima, Colonia Buenos Aires

• Saturday, November 8th, 10 am-2 pm, Paseo de las Palmas and Libramiento Luνs Donaldo Colosio, Col. Barrio Sta. Marνa
 
Living in Vallarta gives us the opportunity to volunteer at many different and wonderful organizations. I have gone out to Pasitos de Luz (Points of Light) and spent some time with the very special children and staff there and have always come away with a smile in my heart. Those people that work there are very special.

But last week I had the pleasure to volunteer at V.E.S. (Vallarta Enfrenta el Sida, A.C., or Vallarta Confronts AIDS in English.) Having lost many friends to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and now with friends living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) I was more than ready to help out in any way I could.

AIDS is caused by HIV.

If you get infected with HIV, your body will try to fight the infection. It will make "antibodies," special molecules to fight HIV. A blood test for HIV looks for these antibodies. If you have them in your blood it means you have HIV infection. People who have these antibodies are called HIV Positive (HIV+).

Being HIV+, or having HIV is not the same as AIDS. Many people are HIV+, but don't get sick for years. As HIV continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don't cause any problems can make you sick if your immune system is damaged. These are called opportunistic infections. That's why it's important to be tested for HIV, so that if you are infected, you can get early treatment so as not to develop opportunistic infections, or AIDS, and not unknowingly pass on the virus to your family and loved ones.

Working with the guys from V.E.S., Paco, Ismael and Alejandro, was a real education for me. They are not only hard working dedicated men who love their job (and it shows,) but they also seem to enjoy working together.

Well, here's how I spent my week as a V.E.S. volunteer:

On Tuesday I went to CAPASITS, the HIV/AIDS clinic whom V.E.S. works with directly, and picked up the "Prevenmovihl" a mobile AIDS education van. Then I went back downtown to pick up posters, condoms and supplies.

We went out to the Regional Hospital on Wednesday to hang banners and perform outreach services before heading back to the office to get things ready for distributions on Thursday.

Thursday was spent in downtown Puerto Vallarta and the Romantic Zone, where we hung posters, passed out information and distributed canisters of condoms to bars, restaurants and hotels for free distribution.

On Friday, we went out to Coapinole to pick a site to do free HIV rapid testing and counseling on Sunday.

Our Saturday was spent in Coapinole, where we blanketed the Colonia with posters and information about HIV and the free testing that would be available on Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Sunday was an early, and long, day. I borrowed a truck from Juan Carlos, went to the office to load it up with tables, chairs, tents, information packets, testing supplies, posters, banners and test kits. Then I drove out to Coapinole where I met Sergio, a fellow volunteer, who helped me get everything set up for the day. By 10 am, we were all set up ready for the real work... what it's all about.

At 10:10 am Dr. Galileo, Alondra (Administrator) and Miriam (Pyschologist) from CAPASITS showed up to help out. A short time later Coral, a former V.E.S. employee who is now a volunteer, also showed up. From that point on it was like watching a symphony being played.

There were 4 stations set up, each with its own purpose:
1. Introduction to what was going on
2. Pre-Test counseling
3. Rapid HIV testing
4. Test results and post-counseling

I was totally blown away at the way these dedicated people worked. I was surprised to see that a lot of the people who stopped by to get tested were old, young and middle-aged men and women. I'm sure that had it not been for the V.E.S. Mobil Detection Unit setting up in that place on that day that most of these people would never have been tested.

Although I was just the driver last week I still feel that I contributed a little something towards the cause of HIV education in the Banderas Bay area. I feel very grateful to have been asked to do my small part and would gladly jump at the chance to be of any other service I can. I am honoured to have been a part of the dedicated team that VES has.

If I'm lucky, they'll ask me to help out at one of these upcoming 2008 events:

• Sunday, September 28th, 10 am-2 pm, Colonia Ixtapa Plaza Principal

• Saturday, October 11th, 10 am-2 pm, Plaza Principal, Colonia Las Palmas

• Friday, October 17th, 10 am-2 pm, San Salvador and Brasilia, Colonia 5 de Diciembre

• Sunday, October 26th, 10 am-2 pm, Unidad Deportiva Jardines, Colonia Jardines

• Sunday, November 2nd, 10 am-2 pm, Manantial and Lima, Colonia Buenos Aires

• Saturday, November 8th, 10 am-2 pm, Paseo de las Palmas and Libramiento Luνs Donaldo Colosio, Col. Barrio Sta. Marνa

• Saturday, November 15th, 10 am-2 pm, Plaza Principal, Colonia Infonavit

To learn more about the VES free and confidential HIV testing events listed above or if you would like to volunteer, call the guys at 223-0535 or visit the V.E.S. office at Hidalgo #457-1 in downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta's HIV/AIDS non-profit organization, Vallarta Enfrenta el SIDA, and CAPASITS, work together to provide high-quality medical care, counseling and psychological support, education and prevention programs, and outreach to at-risk communities in the Banderas Bay area. For information, assistance, or to volunteer or donate, please visit VallartaEnfrentaSida.org. To learn more about VES, click HERE.



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the included information for research and educational purposes • m3 © 2008 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved • carpe aestus