The Oregonian (Portland) (01.21.12) - Tuesday, February 14,
Sixty-one year-old North Portland resident Jacki Gethner is on
a tireless crusade to provide HIV/AIDS education and
information to older women. While receiving a Bank of America
(BOA) Neighborhood Hero award last November, she used her
acceptance speech to talk about safe sex, and she taught the
audience how to put on a condom.
In 2009, Gethner received a national Kaiser Permanente
Diversity award; she used the proceeds to found "Women of a
Certain Age" (WCA) a program dedicated to educating women over
50 about HIV risks and prevention. In the 15 months since the
program launched, Gethner has conducted almost 50
presentations, focusing her efforts on senior center managers,
domestic violence workers, probation and parole officers, and
geriatric social workers. She estimates she has reached nearly
1,000 local women.
"This project has been a huge challenge because there is so
much shame around this issue," Gethner said. "There are a lot
of women over 50 who are still looking for Mr. Right, but they
don't think enough of themselves to get up out of bed and get
Gethner wants to establish WCA in six areas of the state:
Portland, Corvalis, Grants Pass, Bend, Pendleton, and on the
coast. The program's peer educators are central to that
effort; their job is not to be experts, but to be able to
communicate basic HIV/AIDS information and accompany women who
want to get screened, she said. Each program will partner with
a local medical or social service provider.
Shelley Bailey, a pharmacy manager who nominated Gethner for
the BOA award, said Gethner is "very mindful of the needs of
the community, and cultivates relationships among women. She's
an individual who could do a lot of good for the community."
For more information, visit www.jackigethner.com.