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Mothers with HIV Receive Affordable Housing

Washington Informer, News Report, Odell B. Ruffin Posted: Dec 08, 2008

Carolina Missionary Baptist Church, in Fort Washington, Md., in partnership with My Sisters Keeper unveiled an architectural rendering of a group home designed to provide affordable housing for mothers living with HIV/AIDS on Sun., Nov 30. Juanita Brown Sims, mother of three children, contracted the virus 15 years ago and shed tears of joy about the program.

God has been good, because I havent been sick since I came down with the disease. Its hard for me to get out of the bed though. Sometimes I can go, and other times I wake up with aches and pains everyday of my life. But I am grateful that I can wake up, Sims said.

Maryland ranks third in the country and Prince Georges County is second in new reported HIV cases, especially among Black women according to a study by the Maryland Department of Health. Educational opportunities and other services for single mothers and children who have HIV/AIDS will be provided. Carolina Missionary Pastor Anthony E. Moore, Dr. Donald Shell, Prince Georges Health Officer, and many others were on hand to mark the occasion.

We need to do everything we can to combat this virus. I am optimistic that other churches will get involved in addressing the issue because we bring resources from other areas to educate them, Pastor Moore said.

The new facility will be located on slightly less than two acres of land in Fort Washington, and will serve as a residence for mothers to enable them to gain personal strength. While living at the home they will participate in training sessions, workshops, meetings and group sessions that will encourage self-sufficiency and life skills development.

Children will also attend weekly support groups to allow them to share their feelings with others who have similar experiences. A final goal is improve self-esteem and learn coping skills.

HIV and AIDS is tremendous in this county. I think the church should address the virus because people need to hear this regardless of the setting. We need to use education, prevention and testing. These things are very crucial. Where there is no information people will dwell in ignorance, Pastor Moore said.

Operation programs for residents are responsible for assisting with identifying and securing permanent housing, childcare, schools, medical and employment opportunities for women living with HIV/AIDS.

We need help through all kinds of partnerships. For us its a blessing to able to involve so many people in this process, Shell said.

The disease continues to be 20 times higher for Black women and the second leading cause of death for groups age 22 to 24. My Sisters Keeper is a program of the Harambee Community Development Corporation designed to educate and empower the underserved of the urban community. The organization now seeks specific funds. No specific date has been set for construction of the site.

I discovered the virus shortly after having my daughter. Every year my daughter has a birthday, I celebrate life, Sims said.

Related Articles:

Fearing the Stigma of HIV

Global AIDS Fight Neglects U.S.

Candidates Silent on AIDS in Black Community

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