TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - In Tucson a new organization has formed to serve women with HIV and AIDS.
The nonprofit PowerSource Tucson, Inc. says it's the only group of its kind in Arizona.
You might have noticed we don't hear that much about women who have HIV or AIDS.
We seem to hear most about men living with HIV and AIDS.
We know about transmission through men having sex with men or through injectable drug use.
The federal government says women are infected with HIV primarily through heterosexual sex.
In other words, their partners infect them.
PowerSource Tucson says the stigma surrounding the disease means women tend to be more isolated, feeling alone and without support.
"Women tend to be even more isolated than someone else who would have HIV and AIDS. They also have family obligations so they can't get out often and there is a tendency among women to blame themselves when they become HIV positive," says PowerSource Tucson, Inc. executive officer and founder Barbara Lock.
Lock says the group helps women overcome the stigma surrounding the disease.
It's a stigma that makes women tend to feel alone and without support, hiding, unable to come out of the isolation.
"I was in a-- really a dark place, a secluded, lonely place. And this group also helped me to come out, also to find myself and find strength within me," says PowerSource Board Member and client Tina Renee. "It helped me to actually come out, to actually empower myself from the shell that I was in and from the hiding and asked to come out and get involved."
Lock says PowerSource wants women to know their HIV/AIDS status.
The federal government says almost one in seven people infected with HIV doesn't know it. That's 14 percent of those infected.
Particularly the group is reaching out to minorities and older women.
"The HIV contraction rate for senior women is growing daily especially in retirement areas. We don't have to use birth control any more. All of the children are gone. We're looking for boyfriends. We may be divorced or widowed. So we are out there sexually active and that puts us at risk," Lock says.
PowerSource Tucson just won a $1,000 grant that will allow it to begin a program that includes a wellness component, a self-esteem component and First Aid/CPR training and certification.
To contact PowerSource Tucson, Inc. click here.
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