Schools & Givens, From HIV Clients to Advocates,

L to R, Jacynthia Givens and Anita Schools offer support for women living with HIV through the Sister Care support program. Photo by Jesse Brook

L to R, Jacynthia Givens and Anita Schools offer support for women living with HIV through the Sister Care support program. Photo by Jesse Brook

When Anita Schools was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, she was proactive about learning more about the virus and getting treatment. Now as a program coordinator with Sister Care, a support program for HIV positive women, she is showing other women the support they need to continue their lives.

Sister Care provides early medical intervention, on-site and referrals to HIV specialist clinics, information, and support meetings for diagnosed women and their families.

It is organizations like ‘Sister Care’ that give women hope and help them in their recovery, said Schools.

“A lot of women are stressed out with family and relationships and need support,” Schools said. “[Sister Care] helps them to clear their minds, as they come to the meetings to talk about everything that has been bothering them.”

Before serving as program coordinator, Schools was a client at Sister Care. She says the organization helped her become comfortable sharing her HIV status with her family and taught her how to live with the virus, something extremely important for newly diagnosed patients.

“When people don’t know anything about HIV and then they get their diagnosis that they’re HIV positive, the first thing they think is they’re going to die,” she added.

Schools also speaks at local high schools in the East Bay, continuing to raise awareness of the disease and ways in which it’s contracted.

Schools holds monthly support meetings with Jacynthia Givens, another former ‘Sister Care client who now works as an HIC advocate. Givens was diagnosed with HIV in 2000 and has committed her life to fighting against the stigma that is often associated with the virus.

Meetings are held every 3rd and 4th Thursday, noon to 2 p.m., at 405 14th St., #300. For more information, contact Anita Schools at (510) 200-3229

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