From photo sessions, lectures on healthy cooking and even knitting. It's part of a weekend retreat that is much deserved for more than 200 women who are HIV positive.
Conference Raises HIV Awareness
More than 200 women attend conference to raise awareness of "still" fast growing illness.
According to the Dallas county health department. There are more than 16,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in the county. The county leads the state in new infection rates. And most of those new cases are among the 13-to-24 year old age group.
Sunday, Jul 15, 2012 Updated at 2:31 PM CDT
"It's the public health crisis of our age and really nobody talks about it anymore," Melissa Grove, Executive Director of Legacy Counseling Center said.
The women coming together for the Legacy Counseling Center Grace project--a three-day conference that focuses on support and education to spread the word about HIV testing.
"They're with one another sharing their experiences, hope and strength with one another and they can understand that by doing that, they can overcome this disease and what society says about people who are living with HIV," Michelle Anderson said.
Anderson is the 2011 “Ms. Plus America.” She is the first HIV positive woman to ever run and win a national pageant. She is using her platform to breakdown the stigmas and stereotypes usually associated with HIV and AIDS.
In the early days before HIV and AIDS were part of the American lexicon, there were doubts among many people who were diagnosed with the disease including Helen Goldenberg.
“I said it's not true because it can’t fit my then stereotypical profile,” Goldenberg said.
Goldenberg kept her status quiet, not even telling her family for 10 years.
The Dallas County Health Department said there are 16,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Dallas County. 1,800 of those cases are African American women.
“People think that this is not a disease that pertains to them but they might not know that their sister, their co-worker, their grandmother can be HIV positive,” Grove said.