Restaurants donate to AIDS project

Sure, you can dine out any day of the week. Yet sharing a scrumptious meal you didn’t have to make will be a little more special this Thursday.

On that day, the Western Colorado AIDS Project will receive a portion of the money spent by diners at participating restaurants to help its mission. WestCap works to prevent the spread of HIV and helps people who have been diagnosed with HIV and AIDS.

All local proceeds from Thursday night’s event stay in western Colorado.

“My punch line is, we’re the agency people don’t know about until you need us,” said Jeffrey Basinger, regional director of the Western Colorado AIDS Project, or WestCap.

The annual event has beensponsored for 25 years around the U.S., but this is the first year restaurants in Mesa County and Delta County have been invited to participate.

Restaurants in 53 cities last year raised nearly $4.3 million for HIV/AIDS organizations around the nation.

WestCap primarily is funded by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, but leaner budgets have put strains on local resources.

Basinger said most people would be surprised to learn that the majority of new AIDS cases in western Colorado in the past five years were contracted by heterosexual women between the ages of 30 and 50.

“Our goal is to get all the HIV-positive people identified, linked to care and stable enough to adhere to their medications,” Basinger said. “If we can do that, we can stop HIV infections.”

In 2013, WestCap tested 400 people with a stick test for AIDS, a free process that takes about 10 minutes to learn the results. If a test comes back positive, further testing is assigned. 

WestCap also tests for hepatitis C. In 2013, the agency listed 254 people in its case management program; made contact with more than 4,000 people; offered transportation 190 times for medical appointments; and fulfilled more than 300 requests for emergency needs such as housing and food. 

“We’re still doing the AIDS walk every day,” Basinger said. “We work closely with our clients. We work with high-risk populations.”

WestCap celebrates 25 years in September. The office is located at 805 Main St.

For a list of all participating restaurants in Thursday’s fundraiser, go to


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