Louisville AIDS Walk on the Horizon

Team Women's Center and More Light at Louisville AIDS Walk 2010

The Louisville AIDS Walk is coming up, and the Women’s Center is looking forward to once again joining hands and fund raising forces with More Light at LPTS and with Women at the Well to make a contribution to the funds available for helping people with HIV/AIDS here in the Louisville area, raising awareness about the preventability of HIV/AIDS and its circuitous links to oppressive gender- and race-based structures, and building community and solidarity by getting out in the fresh September air and doing something good together.

If you will be in the Louisville area on Sunday, September 25, join us at 2:00 p.m. at the Belvedere to get together for our team picture, and to be ready to start out with the other walkers at 3:00 p.m.

Whether or not you can join us for the walk, please consider sponsoring our team or one of the walkers, and make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Louisville area.




An Evening with Art and AIM

AIM is one of the agencies funded by the Louisville AIDS Walk

The intimate gathering in the Women’s Center last night had a delightful time over paints and markers, some light snacks and drinks, and develped a new friendship, with Celeste Anderson, a mental health counselor who works with AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana (AIM). AIM is one of the 11 agencies that benefits from the money raised by the Louisville AIDS Walk, and the only one that provides mental health counseling and pastoral care. Celeste opened our eyes to some of the day-to-day realities people with HIV/AIDS face, and shared some of her challenges and hopes in working for HIV/AIDS prevention.

AIDS is a unique disease, in that it is fatal, incurable, and preventable. Technically, in fact, people do not die of AIDS; people die from “opportunistic infections” that afflict those whose immune systems have been destroyed by the disease process. And while it is the case that better medications, treatment, and knowledge about the disease are helping people live longer and better with HIV, the disease that can lead to AIDS, this doesn’t mean there is now a cure for AIDS. The medicines are costly, treatment is complicated and requires patient cooperation for its effectiveness.

So people who have become complacent about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS — including many young people, who seem to believe that “there’s a pill for that now” — don’t take the precautions they need to take to prevent the spread of AIDS. This is one reason young people, and especially young women, are more and more the ones who show up with newly diagnosed cases of HIV. Knowledge, taking the disease seriously, and recognizing that “it happens here” and not just to “other people” in “other places,” contributes to prevention. Celeste talked of her sadness and frustration, as an AIDS educator and counselor, at seeing young people who have acquired HIV+ status; one of her missions is to make that number ever smaller.

Celeste pointed out that AIDS is a special concern for women. The incidence of HIV/AIDS among women is on the rise, as is the incidence of cases attributable to heterosexual transmission. It is particularly important for women to know their own HIV status, to have frank and open communication with their partners, and to protect themselves. Women often do not know they have the disease, until they become pregnant; at that point, while there are treatments that can reduce the risk of having a baby who is also infected with HIV, it is too late to prevent illness for the woman. Women’s situation illustrates the complex factors that encourage silence and false complacency with respect to AIDS, that are connected with “the way people get AIDS.”

There is still an enormous stigma attached to HIV/AIDS, Celeste said. Many of her clients hide their status from significant others in their lives, including their adult children, suffering the isolation and stress that comes with secret keeping. That very fact indicates the depth of shame and self-blame people with HIV/AIDS can feel. That shame is still fueled by the many others who reject and demonize HIV/AIDS patients. Combatting that sense of shame is another of Celeste’s missions. Here, because AIM is an agency which takes the life of the spirit seriously, mobilizing spiritual resources is vitally important. Celeste spoke highly of partners in this ministry, including Central Presbyterian Church, which hosts a monthly dinner for HIV/AIDS sufferers and their friends and caregivers, which is a much-needed occasion for sociality and human connection.

AIM's slogan

We are grateful to Celeste Anderson for taking the time to join us last night, and to share her knowledge and experience with us. We learned much from her — and enjoyed meeting her daughter, as well, who made two dynamic, colorful posters! We look forward to seeing her on Sunday, at the Louisville AIDS Walk registration tent. The money we raise by walking and finding sponsors will go to fund AIM’s work in the coming year, as well as the work of 10 other agencies who work with Louisville area HIV/AIDS sufferers, their caregivers, and families.

Why Louisville AIDS Walk I

Louisville AIDS Walk Sunday Sept. 26

Support Team Women's Center!

Why does the Women’s Center assemble a team every year to walk in the Louisville AIDS Walk? There is no shortage of “walks” we could go on — why not the Breast Cancer Walk? Women get breast cancer. Why not the Crop Walk? We should care about poor women in rural areas, too. Why the Louisville AIDS Walk? That question has come up a couple of times in conversation lately, as we have begun to get the word out about the Louisville AIDS Walk and the Women’s Center’s taking part in it.*

[*Here’s that word: YES, Team Women’s Center will walk in the Louisville AIDS Walk on Sunday, September 26! YES, we hope YOU and YOUR FRIENDS, et al. will join the team online here — LINK TO THE TEAM SITE — and then contact more friends, family members, former employers, teachers, and others who might sponsor your effort. This is a way to raise money for services to our neighbors in the Louisville area who are living with HIV/AIDS and their families. The Women’s Center team will assemble on the Belvedere at 2:00 p.m. — we think that will give us enough time to turn in the funds we’ve raised, get our team picture taken, and be part of the walk that begins at 3:00 p.m.]

The answer to that question is partly historical, and partly theological.

The historical part is that the Women’s Center started walking in the Louisville AIDS Walk as part of its collaboration with the More Light and Women at the Well groups on campus. Both of these groups have ties to the Women’s Center because of our common concern about the way gender, and the role people think it should or must play in society, affects people’s lives, livelihoods and life prospects. Women at the Well is a group for solidarity, support, education and advocacy for African-American women in the Seminary community. More Light has been and is an organization that educates and advocates around issues of special concern to LGBTQ people.

Many people are aware that HIV/AIDS is a special concern for LGBTQ folks and their allies. [more info] Fewer people may be aware that HIV/AIDS is also a special concern for the African-American community. That is particularly true at a time when young African-American women are among those most at risk for newly reported HIV+ status, and when decreased funding for AIDS awareness and prevention programs in recent years disproportionately affected this group of people. [more info]

In other words, part of the reason we started walking in the Louisville AIDS Walk is that it became a priority for us because it was a priority for our partners in mission. We keep walking because it keeps mattering.

Stay tuned for the theological part!

Invitation to Walk

Support Louisville AIDS Walk

Sponsor Team Women's Center!

While the Fifth Annual Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice” is immediately on our minds at the Women’s Center, we are looking beyond that event as well . . . at least as far as September 26, the date of the 18th Louisville AIDS Walk.

This year, the Women’s Center at LPTS is once again organizing a team to walk and raise money that will help fund direct services to people with HIV-AIDS and their families and caregivers in the Louisville area. Here’s how Wimminwise readers can help:

In addition to that support, you can encourage your family, friends, colleagues and other supporters to check out this post and the team pages, and consider walking and raising money with us!

See you in September — first at the Katie Geneva Cannon Lecture and Interfaith Conference “A Woman’s Voice” on 9/12 and 13, for which it’s not too late to register, and then at the AIDS Walk, 9/26, when a Sunday afternoon walk through Louisville will mean a lot to our Louisville area neighbors with HIV-AIDS.

Support Louisville AIDS Walk

Sponsor Team Women's Center!

In the Mail

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Jan Vermeer

Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Jan Vermeer

We’ve been receiving lots of mail about tonight’s

Predestination Prom
proceeds from which support the Louisville AIDS Walk:
Masquerade Ball

    Kids 6:30-8:30
    Childcare 9:-12

beverages and snacks all night!!!
adult beverages after 9
dancing ALL NIGHT LONG!!!
Schlegel Basement

We’ve heard that voting for the “Court of the Elect” closes tonight at 8:00 p.m., and that all donations will be matched by an anonymous donor, so voters are encouraged to vote early and often.

The event, organized by the LPTS Community Affairs Committee, is the Spring semester’s big event designed to focus attention on the problem of HIV/AIDS, educate about the global scope of the AIDS pandemic, and take action towards addressing it. The Gender and Ministry Committee is a co-sponsor.

Deborah Fortel at Montreat Next Week

Women’s Center drop-in hours will be a little shorter on Tuesday next week — which is good news for the folks who will be at Montreat attending the “Transitioning from Solo to Multi-Staff Pastor” conference. That’s because Rev. Deborah Fortel, who has been keeping the Center open on Tuesday afternoons, will be co-leading that conference in the hills of North Carolina. We are wishing her, her co-leader Rev. Harris Schultz, and the group well!

“Green Reads” from Sojourners

In honor of Earth Day on Wednesday, an e-mail correspondent thought this “might be of interest to Wimminwise readers”:

Green Reads
Books on the environment, the economy, and equity.
by Molly Marsh
Sojourners Magazine, May 2009

Click this link to read the article:

Folks interested in Marsh’s article might also be interested in Sojourners’ ‘Christians and the Environment’ PDF discussion guide, available from the SoJo Store for $9.95.

World AIDS Day Today

World AIDS Day, December 1

World AIDS Day, December 1

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

LPTS will observe the day with a unique worship service this morning at 10:00 a.m. in Caldwell Chapel. The Cultural Diversity Committee will screen the award-winning film Philadelphia, to be followed by discussion of key issues raised by the film.

According to the UN 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, “Women account for half of all people living with HIV worldwide, and nearly 60% of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa,” a region which “continues to bear a disproportionate share of the global burden of HIV . . .” Sub-Saharan Africa “is home to 67% of all people living with HIV.”

In large measure, AIDS is a disease of “the least;” it afflicts people who have been neglected, marginalized, coerced physically or financially, and then silenced by the stigma that still attaches to HIV/AIDS infection. Concern for people living with HIV/AIDS, action to relieve suffering caused by HIV/AIDS, and commitment to progress in ending the epidemic, are all concrete expressions of Christian commitment to justice as well as compassion.

Some resources for World AIDS Day:
2008 World AIDS Day theme statement
Download UN 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, Ch. 2 Status of the Global HIV Epidemic
Fact Sheets on AIDS from US Dept. of Health and Human Services
Presbyterian AIDS Network portal
PCUSA International AIDS Ministries

Join Us for the Louisville AIDS Walk

This year’s Louisville AIDS Walk organizers remind us that HIV/AIDS remains a growing problem in the Louisville metro area. Since 2000, the number of people in Louisville living with AIDS has increased 64%. The number of HIV cases in nearby Indiana counties has gone up even more: in Clark County, by 127%, and in Floyd County by 132%. While knowing that there are now drugs that have an effect on the progression of the illness, and hearing from HIV+ folks, may give the impression that AIDS is not as serious a disease as it used to be, this would be a mistake. Over 1 in 5 of the individuals diagnosed with AIDS in Kentucky in the year 2000 died within five years of their diagnosis. While the good news there is that 4 in 5 have a better prognosis, a disease with a 20-25% mortality in a short time, according to my physician source, is a bad one — in the same neighborhood as smallpox.

Between now and September 28, we have an opportunity to do something concrete to be part of the effort to aid HIV/AIDS sufferers and their families, and to promote the cause of healing. The Women’s Center is once again organizing a team of fundraiser/walkers for the 16th Annual Louisville AIDS Walk, which will happen Sunday, September 28. Registration and entertainment will begin at the Belvedere downtown at 1:00, and the walk proper begins at 3:00. We hope you’ll help us in our effort to raise money for this cause by joining the team, asking family, friends, and acquaintances for support, and contributing to our team’s online donation page. See you Sunday, September 28!