October #138 : At Your Service - by Nicole Joseph

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
E-newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » Archives » POZ Magazine issues




Table of Contents
 

Brothers & Sisters

Call Me Miss Ralph

At Your Service




Two-Time Survivor

Reyataz Takers: Drink Up

It's Stuffy in Here

So Hot off the Press

The Early Show

Mortal Combat

Buck Buddies

Posh Spices

Not in My House




Back to the Bathhouse

With or Without You

Embedded

Campus Confidential

Reality Bites

Sarah Sorting

Above the Rim

Hot Dates-October 2007

Capital Punishment

The Shirt Off My Back

eBay AIDS

Dairy Queen

Let’s Hear It for the Boy




Editor's Letter-October 2007

Mailbox-October 2007

Catch of the Month-October 2007



 
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV



email print

October 2007


At Your Service

by Nicole Joseph

After her brother passed away from AIDS, Elisa Mills searched for support and found none. Bernadette Berzoza helps her build a league of her own.

Elisa: I’m HIV negative but have lost two brothers, a cousin, my husband’s best friend and numerous friends and acquaintances to AIDS. After my brother Billy died—it was June 17, 2004, at 10:01 in the morning—I lost my mind. After a couple of days licking my wounds, I decided that maybe I needed to talk to someone. But it seemed that nobody wanted to talk to me. I called my local hospital and churches, and I even called the CDC. We family members need support too. We need to know that somebody cares. But nobody could address the need I felt that I had.

Bernadette: I know how that feels. I found out I was HIV positive in 1989. They didn’t know how to treat positive women back then, and most of the support groups were geared to white gay men. I’m a Chicana woman and my issues are different. That’s why I helped start Sisters of Color United for Education [SCUE].

Elisa: After meeting a priest who helped found an AIDS support group in DC, I tried to start my own group: LifeLine2 Friends and Families of HIV. But nobody came. I live in a little rural town about 40 miles outside of Washington, DC. The mentality out here is very good-old-boy; when I say that my brother died of viral meningitis, it’s not a problem. But if I say my brother died of AIDS, people take an emotional or a physical—or both—step back. I don’t want anybody else to feel that way.

Bernadette: Wow, I can’t even imagine how hard it is out there. Denver is a big metropolitan city, and the community I live in is very different. But even as big as Denver wants to think it’s getting, people still have closed minds. The hardest part of this whole journey is getting beyond stigma. It doesn’t matter what color skin you have, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman—HIV can happen to you. And if it does, it affects your whole family.

Elisa: It’s definitely happening here—I’ve talked to our county health department, and all three hospitals in the area. The health department says it has about 150 cases; social services says it has about 300.

Bernadette: The question becomes how do we reach these people and their families? At SCUE, we’ve learned that sometimes you have to figure out how to get to them through the back door. Sometimes, people don’t want HIV in their face. A lot of our programs include cultural events, like food and dance celebrations, because in the Chicano community, there’s always food. Sometimes people say we do stuff backwards, but for us, that worked to help us reach people.

Elisa: Yes, all I need is the people. It’s not like I don’t have the passion, or the heart. And I can get the information. I want people to know that just because you may have a lost a family member to AIDS, or you have a family member that is ill, it doesn’t mean that people don’t care and don’t understand. I want people to know that there’s at least somebody out there who can empathize and sympathize with what they’re going through.

Bernadette: It takes a strong person to try to do what you’re doing. It’s good to help the people who are infected like this because they’re going through a lot—but we also need to provide services for their parents, their sisters, their children and whoever else is a part of their support system. It takes a long time. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been doing this since 1990, and it’s 2007; it’s taken that long to get this far. If you ever need someone to come out and speak and show the face of somebody living with this virus, let me know; I really want to support what you’re doing.     

For more on Sisters of Color United for Education, visit sistersofcolorunited.org. Contact Elisa Mills at SOMDLifeline@aol.com.


[Go to top]

Join POZ Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar


    chrisf
    san jose
    California


    Reginaldb06
    Dallas
    Texas


    max38man
    Chicago
    Illinois


    RayOctober
    Richmond
    Virginia
Click here to join POZ Personals!
Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Survey
Pop Watch

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.