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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – One of the country’s biggest HIV wellness centers is fighting to stay open in Philadelphia. Leaders are now turning to the internet for help.
Siloam Wellness is a place where people can come free of judgment, and most of all, it teaches those living with HIV how to love themselves – no matter their diagnosis.
“When I got tested, they called me up and said to come back in,” Craig Davis-Sharpe, who tested positive for HIV in 2007, said. “They had this person’s name with Craig Davis and I said, ‘Well, take it again.’ So they took it again and it came back positive.”
Davis-Sharpe’s biggest fear was not being able to have a child, but Siloam Wellness changed his thinking.
“I don’t think about HIV, I know what I have and I deal with it,” Davis-Sharpe said. “When I wake up in the morning, I know I got to take my medicine and I take my medicine. It’s not a big deal.”
Davis-Sharpe is just one of many clients who doesn’t allow his disease to define him thanks to Siloam. But the cash-strapped HIV wellness center may be forced to close its doors.
“We don’t get federal funding because what we do is holistic,” Siloam Wellness executive director Sarina DiBianca said.
Since the wellness center does not prescribe medication, it depends on private donations. It started a GoFundMe campaign with the hopes of reaching $500,000.
Many who are first diagnosed with HIV believe their days are numbered and often feel ashamed, but Siloam aims to transform clients’ mind, body and soul.
It can only do that if its doors remain open.
“I can’t begin to imagine the loss of the HIV clients that come here,” Rita Tamburrino, a volunteer Reiki practitioner, said.
“They’re a Godsend to me,” Davis-Sharpe said. “That’s how I feel about Siloam.”
So far, the wellness center has only raised about $3,000 of that $500,000 needed to keep its door open.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is also hosting a film festival on Sunday.
Tickets are $20. Portions of the proceeds will be donated to Siloam Wellness Center.