Women’s AIDS Group Celebrates 20 Years

By Jesse Brooks

Cynthia Carey-Grant, WORLD’S Executive Director since 2009.

A special awards program with cocktails and a silent auction will give “Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases” (WORLD) a chance to remember and honor courageous people who are committed to fight against HIV/AIDS and the stigmas that  accompany it for women. 2011 marked 20 years that WORLD has been providing critical life-enhancing programs and advocacy for women living with HIV and their families.  No one imagined that a small group of   Bay Area HIV positive women who started a support group in 1991 to share information, resources and survival strategies would grow into an internationally recognized organization, linking over 12,000 women in 85 countries. Television personality Barbara Rodgers will serve as mistress of ceremonies. Special guest speaker Marvelyn Brown, a 27-year old native Tennessean who learned that she was HIV positive at the age of 19, will tell her compelling story, which has moved audiences at hundreds of colleges, universities, churches and conferences worldwide. Brown’s autobiography, “The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive,” was published in 2008. Cynthia Carey-Grant, who became WORLD’s Executive Director in 2009  in the midst of difficult budget cuts, sees WORLD as a powerful organization with a rich inspiring history and a legacy that must be honored. “As someone whose life has been personally touched by HIV, ” she said, referring to her brother who died from AIDS, “I know that the face of women most at risk for HIV looks like my daughter, my sister, and me. I believe we must make the change we want in the world.” African American women account for over half of HIV transmissions in women each year.  AIDS is the No. 1 cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 44, beating out heart disease, cancer and homicide. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women made up 67 percent of AIDS diagnoses among women in 2004 and of all women living with AIDS, 64 percent are estimated to be Black. WORLD’s 2012 Award recipients include Dr. Robert Scott, and Clara Broker, both deceased; Congresswoman Barbara Lee; Loren Jones; Nilda Rodriquez; and Cecilia Chung, a nationally recognized civil rights leader who is currently a Human Rights Commissioner in San Francisco. Scott and Broker were both East Bay doctors, who are remembered for their fearless leadership in the HIV/AIDS community. “All of these people are unsung heroes and sheroes,” said Carey-Grant. “In many cases their recognition doesn’t match their compassionate contributions.” For more information  contact mrjessebrooksii@gmail.com or 510-575-8245.
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