Benefit dance performance changes focus |

Benefit dance performance changes focus

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

A performance of “Coppelia and the Dancing Dolls” had been planned to help the family of Cesar Hernandez pay for the kidney transplant he requires.

Now, however, the family has moved to California to obtain care for Cesar, who is expected to receive a kidney transplant in September, said Javier Ramirez, the city’s citizen-outreach coordinator.

Once it was discovered the Hernandezes couldn’t accept the money and still qualify for care in California, “we decided to switch charities,” said Heather Costella, board president of the Reno Dance Company, the nonprofit group putting on the benefit.

Focus of the benefit now will be on raising funds for the Nevada AIDS Foundation. The Reno-based nonprofit provides housing assistance, support and advocacy for those living with HIV or AIDS and for those closest to them.

The comic ballet will be at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Bob Boldrick Theater in Carson City.

Tickets are at such locations as the Brewery Arts Center and City Cafe and Bakery, and cost $20 each.

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The change in beneficiary turned out to be fortuitous: Carson City Health and Human Services is hosting a special HIV-AIDS awareness event next week, Ramirez said.

Residents can come to the parking lot of Health and Human Services headquarters, 800 E. Long St., and receive free oral HIV tests from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The city works with Northern Nevada Hopes to help HIV and AIDS patients in Carson City and throughout the state’s rural counties. It will have a van parked outside the city building.

Along with offering HIV tests each Wednesday, the organization also provides emotional support in a group setting to those with the disease and their loved ones.

“People need to understand that getting an HIV test isn’t something difficult to do,” said Francis Ashley, a city health official.

“It will give them relief; they’ll get proper care and protect the people they love from contracting it. Or if they’re negative, they don’t have to worry about it,” Ashley said.

The rapid, preliminary test people will receive Wednesday consists of rubbing a cotton swab inside the patient’s mouth.

Results come back quickly, and further testing is conducted to confirm whether someone truly has the virus.

And the faster a diagnosis is made, the better a patient’s prognosis is because they can make behavioral changes, start treatment and stay healthy, said Dustin Boothe, the city’s epidemiologist.

“Without proper care, HIV evolves into AIDS, and it attacks the immune system,” Boothe said. “They catch things those of us with healthy immune systems can easily fight off.”

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, acquired immune deficiency. HIV attacks the immune system and gradually destroys its ability to fight infections.

HIV is transmitted by having sex or sharing needles and syringes with someone infected with it, or if a fetus or infant is exposed to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.

If you go

WHAT: HIV-AIDS Awareness Event

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Parking lot of Health and Human Services headquarters, 800 E. Long St.