Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (12.03.11) - Thursday, January
"[Nicole] is a business owner and minister living in Shelby
County with HIV. She was sexually assaulted 17 years ago by an
acquaintance. Had a friend not informed her of the Memphis
Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, she might never have sought
treatment for her disease. Instead, Nicole was able to cope
with her diagnosis and receive the necessary medical,
nutritional, and emotional assistance to live each day to the
"Today, Nicole is lending her face and testimonial to the
Memphis program's 'Know Now. Live Longer.' campaign, which
promotes free HIV/AIDS services to residents of Shelby and
other Memphis-area counties who cannot afford care or don't
know where to turn. ...
"It is time that we, as members of a caring and issues-based
faith community, confront the reality that HIV is a part of
this community (especially among our minority populations). We
have a responsibility to recognize this disease and offer our
assistance to those living with HIV/AIDS, just as we would to
our brothers and sisters living with diabetes, high blood
pressure, and heart disease. ...
"Unfortunately, many people in our community ignore their HIV
status out of fear that it is a death sentence or because of
the stigma too often associated with it. We have the
opportunity to fulfill our call, serve those in need, break
the stigma, and open the door to share a message of hope as
part of our spiritual family. ...
"The first thing we must do is welcome individuals living with
HIV into our thoughts and prayers. We must take care of one
another. Starting with each of our congregations, we can begin
to dispel the negative stigma surrounding HIV, get educated,
and help inform the community of the 'Know Now. Live Longer.'
campaign and the services available to those living with this
disease. As we work together to help fight HIV in Memphis, we
can learn more by visiting www.hivmemphis.org."
The author is pastor at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in
Memphis and co-chair of the Memphis Ryan White HIV/AIDS
Program Planning Council.