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Emily Graham-Berks and Paige Semich

Since last September, Emily Graham-Berks and Paige Semich have worked full-time at HIV Alliance as Americorps volunteers. Graham-Berks, who grew up in Bandon, took a year off from her UO Family and Human Services studies to run the Alliance's needle-exchange program, currently threatened by budget cuts. "We exchange about 52,000 needles per month," she says. "Prevention is so much cheaper than even one case of AIDS." Semich, who grew up in Bend and earned UO degrees in fine arts and international studies, does HIV testing and counseling at the Alliance. "When I'm testing people, I give them education about STD risk factors," she says. "I'm passionate about prevention." When their current Americorps assignments end on July 31, Graham-Berks will return to school, but continue to work part-time as a paid case worker. Semich hopes to renew her Americorps position for a second year."They're both very dedicated and compassionate people -- they're here 40 hours a week," says Kelly Moore, counseling and testing director at HIV Alliance. "Our clients appreciate them as well as we do."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 1 July 2004

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