Agency News

Red Ribbon Ride

Posted on Friday, July 11, 2014

Join us for the Annual Red Ribbon Ride.. This is a four day, nearly 300 mile bike ride that will start with an Opening Ceremony at 6:30am at the Mall of America on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

It ends with a closing ceremony at the beautiful State Capitol in St. Paul, July 20th at 1:30pm. The Ride Will travel to a new area of the state…going southwest to overnight stays in Belle Plaine, Mankato, and Waconia. Travel with hundreds of other the Ride benefit eight incredible Minnesota AIDS service organizations. They are: African American AIDS Task Force, The Aliveness Project, Clare Housing, Hope House of St. Croix Valley, Minnesota AIDS Project, Park House, One Heartland and Rural AIDS Action Network.

New Route for 2014!!

Day 1, July 17:  Starts at Mall of America West Market Square (new location for 2014), Bloomington, MN; Opening Ceremony 6:30am, Ride out 6:55am; Overnight at Belle Plaine, Junior & Senior High School, 220 Market St., Belle Plaine
Day 2, July 18:  Mankato Loyola Catholic High School, 123 Good Counsel Drive, Mankato
Day 3,  July 19:  Waconia High School, 1400 Community Drive, Waconia (Friend & Family Night)
Day 4, July 20:  Closing Ceremony at the beautiful State Capitol, St. Paul, 1:30pm

See website for places to cheer along the route.

Visit the Team MAP page and sponsor us!

Minnesota AIDS Project at Twin Cities Pride

Posted on Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Please join Minnesota AIDS Project at these events.

Be Proud, be PrEPared
Thu, June 25, 6-8 pm
LUSH, 990 Central Ave NE (or Spring Street) Minneapolis
Hang out with local sexual health educators from the Minnesota AIDS Project and the HIM Program of the Red Door Clinic, and to learn more about Pre-exposure Prophylaxis!

PrEP is an exciting new tool in the HIV prevention toolkit, and we want to get the word OUT! Learn enough about PrEP to pass our quiz and you’ll get a choice between two awesome t-shirts! We’re also providing yummy snacks from the LUSH kitchen, which you’ll love after getting your $1 drink game on!
1st Annual Twin Cities Rainbow Pride Ball
Sat, June 28, 8 pm – 2 am
Patrick’s Cabaret, 3010 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis
Hosted by Midnight Sotaboyzz Valentino
Admission: $20-$25
Free admission before midnight with free rapid HIV testing provided by PrideAlive.
National HIV Testing Day
Thu, June 26 and Fri, June 27, 10:30 am -1 pm.
Minnesota AIDS Project will be providing free rapid-test HIV screening.
Minnesota AIDS Project, 1400 Park Ave, Minneapolis

MAP Pride Booth
Sat, June 28, 10 am - 10 pm & Sun, June 29, 10 am - 6 pm
Loring Park,1382 Willow St, Minneapolis


HIV in Minnesota Criminal Courts: Protecting the Public or Criminalizing a Chronic Disease?

Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Minnesota Statute §609.2241 makes the knowing transfer of communicable disease a crime. This program will discuss the pros and cons of prosecutions under the statute, how to advise clients, and how to handle issues involving HIV in your legal practice.

In addition, this course will clarify the current health risks of HIV and public health considerations when assessing cases and claims. A panel of speakers will lead a discussion of strategies and responses to potential defendants and potential crime victims in our current context.

HIV in Minnesota Criminal Courts: Protecting the Public or Criminalizing a Chronic Disease?

Minnpost features AIDS Walker: “Silence is deadly: My life with HIV”

Posted on Thursday, May 8, 2014

“This year I am co-leading a team of volunteer fundraisers for the 2014 Minnesota AIDS Walk. The walk is on Sunday, May 18. We named our team “Silence Is Deadly.” It can be deadly, but it never has to be again. “

Minnesota AIDS Walk, May 18

Silence is deadly. My name is Shannon Houska. I am 32 years old. I almost died keeping my deadly secret. I remained silent about a matter of my life and death for nearly a decade. I remained silent about my HIV diagnosis and hid my status in public until recently. A few weeks ago I went public with my HIV status. I hope breaking my silence encourages more people living with painful secrets to speak up without shame.

I was diagnosed when I was 23. It was earth-shattering news for me. I suspected that I was sick, but the final confirmation was unbearable. I remember being at The Red Door Clinic when they gave me the news. I let just two tears fall from my eyes; I held the rest in because I was embarrassed and ashamed to be seen crying. I did not want strangers in the waiting room to figure out what my diagnosis was. So I held my devastation inside and walked out of the clinic pretending that nothing had changed for me.

In reality everything had changed. I was 23, and my dream of becoming a wife and mother one day had been the dream that had kept me going during tough times. The day I received my HIV diagnosis, I gave up on that dream and all of my other dreams as well. I did not tell my family or friends what was going on with me. I did not let anyone in my life know that I was scared to death and hurting with grief. I didn’t tell anyone that I was sick or suffering.

I was too embarrassed and ashamed of myself to ask anyone for support or guidance. I kept the secret of my diagnosis from my mother, sister and best friends. I stopped visiting all of my loved ones, and I ignored their phone calls.

I started thinking day and night about a way out of my shame and my illness, forever. I decided that ending my life would be the best way out. I collected pills and stockpiled them; I set a date and wrote goodbye letters to leave behind. 

Demanded the truth

One person in my life sensed that something was very wrong with me. She showed up at my door and demanded that I tell her the truth about what was going on with me. I told her everything. I told her about my HIV diagnosis and plan to commit suicide. She saved my life by having me admitted into a psychiatric care unit for 24-hour supervision.

The staff at the ward took away the strings from my shoes so that I would not strangle myself with them. They refused to give me razors to shave my armpits, so that I would not slit my wrists. They held me and only released me when I seemed willing to reconsidering killing myself.

When they let me out of the hospital I was not a happy person, yet. I still had no hope for my future. I still wanted to die. Years passed; I searched everywhere to make meaning of what happened to me and found none. I looked for a reason to keep living in spite of my grief, and it was difficult to find.

Purpose in advocacy

After almost a decade, however, I began to find good purpose, hope and comfort in advocating for other silent and marginalized people in our community. I am not silent anymore. I am not hiding my HIV status from anyone, and I am not ashamed. I am HIV positive but my status does not define me. My purpose, hopes, aspirations and actions make me who I am.

This year I am co-leading a team of volunteer fundraisers for the 2014 Minnesota AIDS Walk. The walk is on Sunday, May 18. We named our team “Silence Is Deadly.” It can be deadly, but it never has to be again. 

To donate to or join our team, visit and enter our team name.

Shannon Houska is a junior in the Communication Studies Department at St. Catherine University. She is an advocate for affordable housing and income equality. She lives in the Stevens Square neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Minpost original article
Silence is deadly: My life with HIV, from diagnosis and shame to advocacy and pride


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