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New director takes charge of West Alabama AIDS Outreach

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — Billy Kirkpatrick, the new executive director of West Alabama AIDS Outreach, said he’s concerned about agency fundraising, but also the HIV/AIDS stigma that still exists in Alabama.

He said HIV/AIDS is still seen as “a gay disease rather than a health issue.”

“We have to get the message across that we can help people without condoning their lifestyle choices,” he said.

Kirkpatrick succeeded Mona Ochoa-Horsham, who led the agency for a decade.

She resigned earlier this summer.

He is preparing for the agency’s annual “Chair-it auction” fundraising event, during which unusual handcrafted chairs are sold. The benefit is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at the University Club.

Kirkpatrick, 30, a native of Burlington, N.C., moved to Tuscaloosa when he was 17 years old to attend The University of Alabama.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1999 and earned a master’s in community counseling from UA in 2006.

Kirkpatrick previously worked for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tuscaloosa for five months and spent six years at the Brewer-Porch Children’s Center working with the autism program.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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