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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-12-07



Rubbing the Right Way
by Amy Wooten

This article shared 4614 times since Wed Sep 3, 2008
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Nightspots speaks with Dolores Diaz and Eric Nelson of BEHIV ( Better Existence with HIV ) about the necessity of something as simple as human touch to the lives of those affected by HIV.

Pictured: Join mistress of ceremonies Regina UPright at Star Gaze this Sunday evening for the BEHIV Bar Day wrap-up party.

For some people, a massage isn't a luxury, but a necessity.

About 30 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS suffer from a painful disease called neuropathy. Neuropathy causes painful tingling and numbness typically in the extremities, such as the hands and feet. Some cases of neuropathy are caused by HIV/AIDS, while others are a side effect of the meds taken.

'It can be extremely painful,' said BEHIV message therapist Dolores Diaz. Diaz joined the agency seven years ago, and helps around five or six individuals each week with free massage therapy.

Massage therapy has been proven to not only help alleviate patients' pain and anxiety, but increase their T-cell counts and boost their immune system. It also helps restore circulation.

Diaz said that if done on a regular basis, the results for clients are amazing and almost immediate. But with program cuts, clients can only come about once a month, and the agency can't help as many clients as it wants to. Although there isn't a waiting list, long-term clients are the first priority. Currently, massage therapy is offered once a week. In the future, BEHIV would like to add another day.

'You seen them backslide,' Diaz said.

BEHIV executive director Eric Nelson said that many people view massage as a luxury. But for BEHIV clients, it isn't a day at the spa. Instead, it is therapeutic, and helps alleviate the extreme pain and discomfort that impacts every aspect of their lives.

For many clients, massage therapy not only provides physical relief, but also emotional.

'For a lot of patients, a lot of the benefit is that human touch,' said Nelson, who added that it's important for many to have someone who is not afraid to give them a massage and show compassion. Often, whether newly diagnosed or living with the disease for years, clients can feel extreme loneliness.

'It creates this ability to open up physically and open up mentally,' said Diaz.

BEHIV used to be able to help more clients, but federal funding cuts for massage therapy, previously through the Ryan White CARE Act, forced them to cut back services As a direct response, the agency and its massage therapy clients decided to hold a huge benefit to help keep the program going.

'It was nice to see this event was created by staff members and clients who said, 'Hey, what can we do to help?'' Nelson said.

Last year, the 'Bar Day' event was a huge success in terms of not only raising funds while having fun, but also increasing awareness. So, BEHIV is at it again. The second annual 'Bar Day' will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7 at bars all over Andersonville and Edgewater. Go to @mosphere, Big Chicks, The Glenwood, Jackhammer, Ravenswood Pub, SoFo, Star Gaze, T's or Touche and enjoy drink and shot specials and raffles for fabulous prizes.

But that's not all. Participants are welcomed to kick off the day with brunch before hitting the bars. La Conina de Frida will donate 10 percent of its brunch sales on Sept. 7 to BEHIV.

Finish off the evening with a smashing wrap-up party at 5 p.m. at Star Gaze, featuring Regina UPright as the Mistress of Ceremonies and karaoke.

See .

This article shared 4614 times since Wed Sep 3, 2008
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