California: HIV-Positive Woman Helps Victims Cope
January 5, 2005
Two weeks after their wedding day, Evelyn Hernandez Valentino's new husband was diagnosed with HIV. In the following two weeks, Valentino learned she, too, was HIV-positive. In the decade since AIDS claimed her husband, Valentino has made HIV/AIDS her life's commitment.
Valentino, a former legislative analyst for the speaker of the New York State Assembly, moved to California in 1998 to work as a public-policy analyst for a Los Angeles nonprofit and in 2000 founded Working Wonders, the Inland region's first group to specialize in assisting women and children affected by HIV/AIDS. In November, the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation -- which operates free clinics in the United States, Africa and Central America -- announced its partnership with Valentino to open a clinic in Coachella Valley that will specialize in treating women and children.
Victoria Jauregui Burns, chief of Riverside County Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Program, said that although good AIDS organizations exist in the Inland region, having one that specializes in women and children is very valuable. "People living with this have to deal with it and they have to feel comfortable with their provider," said Burns. "Particularly with this disease, because it is life threatening."
Burns said she sees Valentino "as a mover and a shaker." "Clearly she has a vision -- she sees a need and she's working very hard to fill it and build a collaborative approach." Valentino believes her life experiences make her uniquely suited to help other women affected by HIV/AIDS. "They know I've gone through what they're going through," said Valentino.
01.02.05; David Hermann
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.