Tennessee: AIDS Educator Fights Stigma Among Women
February 23, 2012
The recent observance of the 12th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helped spotlight efforts to combat the disease locally.
Nashville CARES -- Tennessee's largest HIV/AIDS organization -- was founded some 15 years ago. Its mission is to support those living with AIDS through prevention and education efforts including offering nutrition services, support groups, therapy, financial assistance, and case management.
Barbara Gunn-Lartey, women's education coordinator for the group, became an advocate after seeing the effect of HIV/AIDS while working with the Peace Corps in West Africa. The experience, she said, solidified her resolve to "help others empower their lives ... and Nashville CARES became the place for that."
According to Gunn-Lartey, influencing women to prioritize their own health care is central to her mission. "On the list of issues women have to address, HIV and health care have not been prevalent," she said. The disease continues to increase in the African-American community, and is the leading cause of death for women 25-34, she noted.
Getting screened for HIV often is the first step for women seeking services at Nashville CARES. "So, just like we get tested for diabetes or heart disease, or any other health issue, we try to show this is very standard ... We are trying to normalize and personalize it," said Gunn-Lartey.
The Tennessean (Nashville)
02.10.12; Charles Pulliam
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