Sunday, August 14, 2011


First AIDS Walk Starts Saturday

The Tyler chapter of Women of Prayer International will host its first AIDS walk at 8 a.m. Saturday. The walk will begin at Bergfeld Park, at the corner of Fourth Street and South Broadway Avenue and end at Dale Chapel Baptist Church, 620 W. Glenwood Blvd.

Organizer Tammy Arterberry said the walk will promote HIV/AIDS awareness as well as domestic abuse prevention.
A program immediately will follow the walk, which includes presentations by Bishop L.J. Guillory, Denise Wolford, Yung Cofer, Dr. Christi Osuagwa, Dr. Roseland Guyton, Dr. Jeanette Deas Calhoun and Pam Banks. 

Beginning at 6 p.m., another program on the topic will start at First Tyler United Methodist Church, 2107 Woodlawn St. There will be a 15-minute drama presentation and musical guests, Ms. Arterberry said.

HIV/AIDS hits close to home for Ms. Arterberry. A close friend was diagnosed with HIV 23 years ago, and she’s had several family members who have been affected by the disease, including two cousins who have died from it.

Ms. Arterberry said she is compassionate to victims of domestic abuse, having been a victim herself as a child.
“I’m real passionate when it comes to domestic violence, rape and molestation,” she said. “I want people to have a voice. I didn’t have a voice. A lot of times there are women who have HIV or AIDS, and they’re also in a domestic violence situation and they are unable to get out. I want to make sure people are being protected.”

Ms. Arterberry is teaming up with many local leaders to help educate the community in order to diminish the spread of new HIV infections, particularly among African-American women. 

Mrs. Deas Calhoun will provide information about MPowering Women Over HIV Regional Coalition, a new group of at least 25 community leaders created to disseminate information about HIV prevention.

“We’re expecting the walk to be well supported because there are churches committed to participate, sororities and fraternizes committed to participate. …We’re trying get people to understand how persons become infected.”

Its primary focus is on black women, as they make up 13 percent of the 66,000 people living with HIV in Texas, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data. In addition, black women make up 57 percent of all women living with HIV in Northeast Texas.

The coalition has identified services most needed in East Texas. They are: increase awareness and provide mentorship to black women at risk for HIV; equip teens to make informed and healthy choices; increase testing and treatment for HIV/AIDs; and increase prenatal services for women at risk.

According to DSHS reports, the rate of new diagnoses in black females is eight times higher in Hispanic females and 14 times greater in white females.
Learning of that diagnoses too late means an individual is least likely to properly manage their disease.

“The whole emphasis is to have people know their status,” Mrs. Deas Calhoun said.