The Tennessean (Nashville) (02.10.12) - Thursday, February
The recent observance of the 12th annual National Black
HIV/AIDS Awareness Day helped spotlight efforts to combat the
Nashville CARES - Tennessee's largest HIV/AIDS organization -
was founded some 15 years ago. Its mission is to support those
living with AIDS through prevention and education efforts
including offering nutrition services, support groups,
therapy, financial assistance, and case management.
Barbara Gunn-Lartey, women's education coordinator for the
group, became an advocate after seeing the effect of HIV/AIDS
while working with the Peace Corps in West Africa. The
experience, she said, solidified her resolve to "help others
empower their lives ... and Nashville CARES became the place
According to Gunn-Lartey, influencing women to prioritize
their own health care is central to her mission. "On the list
of issues women have to address, HIV and health care have not
been prevalent," she said. The disease continues to increase
in the African-American community, and is the leading cause of
death for women 25-34, she noted.
Getting screened for HIV often is the first step for women
seeking services at Nashville CARES. "So, just like we get
tested for diabetes or heart disease, or any other health
issue, we try to show this is very standard ... We are trying
to normalize and personalize it," said Gunn-Lartey.