The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network of Central Missouri, known as RAIN, was awarded a federal grant of nearly $85,000 to expand primary-care services for people living with or at risk for HIV.
The money was granted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Title III of the Ryan White CARE Act.
Since the act’s inception in 1991, more than $6.4 billion has been dispensed to public and private agencies focused on treating and preventing HIV infection, specifically in low-income populations. This year, the department awarded more than $4.8 million to 29 states and the District of Columbia.
RAIN, founded in 1992 by members of Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, first applied for the grant in 2001.
“RAIN provides crucial nonmedical services,” said the Rev. David Elliott, chairman of the board of trustees for RAIN.
Elliot, who has worked with the organization for nearly three years, is a former minister at the Unity Center of Columbia. He said his decision to get involved was as natural as a calling.
“There was a time when people were dying of AIDS instead of living with AIDS,” Elliot said.
With a growing number of volunteers and staff members, the agency offers case management for people infected with HIV, including incarcerated patients. Also available are transportation assistance, an emergency food pantry and health counseling for people who are HIV-positive.
A primary focus of the organization is education and prevention. RAIN offers testing and counseling for individuals as well as HIV-prevention interventions at the community level.
The subject of AIDS has drifted from the mainstream in recent years, especially in rural parts of the country. Yet new diagnoses in Boone County remain in the hundreds each year. Last year, an estimated 30 percent of HIV infections contracted through intravenous drug use in the state were from Boone County.
In 2002, the Department of Health reported a total 614 patients were diagnosed within the 33-county north-central region served by RAIN.
“There is just such a need out there,” Elliott said.