Arizona HIV Advocate Lives Life to the Fullest
Septenber 6, 2005
While living in Queens, N.Y., in 1988, Lorraine Brown discovered her six-year-old daughter packing a suitcase, saying she was going away because kids at her school kept calling her mom a whore and junkie, after word spread of Brown's HIV diagnosis. Since there were scarce resources available for women and children with HIV at that time, Brown decided to become their advocate.
In 2001, Brown was already a long-term survivor when she moved to Phoenix and soon began working as a family advocate for the county-operated Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), the primary source for low-income health care in the city. At the McDowell Health Center, Brown works for MIHS' Ryan White Title IV Program, which offers more than 900 clients HIV testing, counseling, prevention and referral services.
Brown trains peer educators, and talks to community organizations, support agencies, churches, and families to promote HIV testing, medical care, and prevention among women -- especially Latinas and African-American women. "Women are raised to be the caretakers, so they're less likely to seek out services because it's about taking care of others, not themselves," said Brown, who also started an e-mail list where people can learn about HIV/AIDS resources.
In Arizona, there are 10,200 people with HIV/AIDS, according to state Department of Health Services figures. Latinas are more than twice as likely as white women to have HIV, and African-American women are more than 15 times as likely as white women to be HIV-positive.
STD risks are compounded if men are raised to be macho and deny they engage in sexual risks, and women are taught to defer to their husbands. "That's often a problem in minority cultures where women are raised to abide by their husbands' wishes," said Freddy Roman, assistant director for wellness and health promotions for Arizona State University. "But not all Latino cultures are the same either, which can make reaching these populations a challenge."
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
08.25.05; Mel Melendez
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.