Healthy Hearts. Happy Women

– Written by Vanderbilt Nursing Students

February is American Heart Health Month

The best way to celebrate the month of love is to learn about the heart! Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women in the United States. Coronary Heart Disease, hypertension, and stroke fall under the umbrella term of heart disease.

Statistics

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing almost 300,000 women a year – 6 times the number of women who will die of breast cancer.

Heart disease is, for the most part, due to lifestyle factors with 90% of women having one or more risk factors.

The lack of education surrounding heart disease and its effects on women has led to poorer outcomes for women experiencing heart disease than men. Studies have shown that women are less likely to understand they are experiencing a heart attack than men due to differences in symptoms. Women are also less likely to seek treatment.

Women are also treated less aggressively than men following a diagnosis involving heart disease. In order to combat these differences, it is important for women to understand ways to prevent heart disease as well as to learn to identify when they may be experiencing a heart attack or symptoms of heart disease.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a group of problems that occur when the heart and blood vessels are not working the way they should. This can mean that the heart itself is not beating correctly or can be caused by plaque buildup in the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart muscle itself. This means that the heart cannot supply the body with the blood and oxygen it needs to function. Due to the lack of oxygen, other parts of the physical symptoms often manifest and signal to the person that something is not right.

How to live a heart-healthy lifestyle!

Quit Smoking: Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. Your risk of heart diseases increases the longer and the more you smoke. Female smokers have a higher risk of heart disease than male smokers. If you do smoke, “quiet lines” have been set up in every state to provide you with professional help for smoking cessation. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: A heart-healthy diet is one of your best weapons to fighting heart disease. A heart-healthy diet focuses on vegetables, fruits, beans, and low-fat dairy products. It’s important to limit red meat, sugary foods and drinks, and sodium. A good way to start eating a heart-healthy diet is by cutting down fast food, which is full of fat, salt, and sugar.

Limit Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Use of drugs and alcohol may lead to adverse cardiovascular effects, such as increased blood pressure and buildup of plaques. Limiting (or eliminating) alcohol intake is a great way to take care of your heart.

Get Daily Exercise: Regular exercise strengthens your heart and promotes the health of your blood vessels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.

How to know if you are having a heart attack

The most common symptoms of heart attack are

  • chest pain
  • pressure or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes
  • symptoms in women
    • shortness of breath
    • nausea/vomiting
    • neck, back, or jaw pain
    • abdominal discomfort
    • indigestion
    • unusual fatigue
    • lightheadedness or dizziness
    • sweating

Sources:

https://healthmetrics.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/At-A-Glance-Heart-Disease-and-Stroke-Statistics-%E2%80%93-2019.pdf

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16537300/#:~:text=Women%20who%20experience%20symptoms%20of,the%20onset%20of%20initial%20symptoms.

https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/heart-health-for-women

Monday Meditation: A New Look at Psalm 23

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

At least once a month, I lead a Spirituality in Recovery group focused on Psalm 23, perhaps the most famous of the 150 psalms included in Scripture. This psalm is frequently read aloud at funeral services because of this line: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” When I discuss this psalm with clients, I frame it as an expression of delight in God. The author – believed to be David, the shepherd who became Israel’s second king – gratefully expounds upon the ways that God has demonstrated provision, protection, and compassion for him.

In her book Guide My Feet: Prayers and Meditations on Loving and Working for Children, Marian Wright Edelman includes a version of Psalm 23 that she heard at All Saints Convent in Catonville, Maryland. Entitled “The Nuns’ Twenty-Third Psalm,” this variation on Scripture speaks to our need for provision, protection, and compassion from God in our work at The Next Door.

The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind.
And His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day,
I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity
By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of my hours for
I shall walk in the place of my Lord and dwell in His House forever.

May you sense the loving presence of the Good Shepherd as you work this week.

Published on February 8, 2021

Monday Meditation: The Beatitudes

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

When Jesus sat down on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee to deliver what would come to be known as “The Sermon on the Mount,” I imagine that the women and men and children who gathered around him leaned forward, straining to hear his provocative words. The opening passage of this sermon is called “The Beatitudes” – a list of blessings. Jesus’ litany of those who are blessed is somewhat surprising. For example, how can those who are mourning be considered to be blessed? And yet, upon closer inspection, we can see a pattern in Jesus’ words.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-10)

The poor in spirit are those who have learned that they must rely on God in all circumstances. Those who mourn depend on God to sustain them as they move forward into a future without the companionship of their dearly departed ones. The meek are not people who are weak; they are those who approach God and others with humility. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness trust God to guide their lives, to direct their paths. Those who are merciful demonstrate Christ-like compassion for others. Those who are pure in heart manifest integrity – there is no differentiation between their public life and their private one. Those who are peacemakers desire to live in harmony with God and others. Those who are persecuted for doing what is right take comfort in knowing that they do not walk alone on the path of righteousness.

Do you see the connection – the thread running through all of the blessings? Jesus does not equate blessing with fame or fortune. Blessing flows from an individual’s intimate relationship with God, from an individual’s dependence on God.

Jesus’ words remind me to look for blessings in unexpected places, in unanticipated ways. May you experience the blessing of God this week

Monday Meditation: “The Hill We Climb”

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

I can’t get her words out of mind. Last Wednesday, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman burst into the world’s collective consciousness as she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Gorman began and ended her poem with references to light.

In the opening line of her poem, Gorman poses a timely question:

“When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?”

The word “dark” has been used repeatedly to use to describe the historical period in which we are living. Where can we find light in these dark days?

Amanda Gorman answers her own question in the closing lines of her poem:

“For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

 

Poet June Jordan would agree with Amanda Gorman. In her “Poem for South African Women,” Jordan declared: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

We are called to be the light. Jesus declared this in his Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Let your light shine, Jesus said. How do we do this? By remaining connected to One who is the source of all light. The psalmist wrote, “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” (Psalm 18:28) We do not have to draw from our own limited resources to be light in the world; instead, we can allow the power of God to flow through us. With God’s help, we can illuminate the darkness. With God’s help, we can be light for women who are searching for a way out of the darkness where they have dwelled for far too long. With God’s help, we can be bearers of the light for one another on those dark days when we can’t see the way forward.

To be light in the world requires courage and connection. May Amanda Gorman’s words be true of us in our work on behalf of women and their families at The Next Door:

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,
Even as we grieved, we grew,
Even as we hurt, we hoped,
Even as we tired, we tried.”

photo from politico.com

Published on January 25, 2021

Monday Meditation: Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

Today our nation celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day of remembrance for a man and the justice movement he gave his life for, people often recall the words Dr. King spoke on April 3, 1968, to a crowd of striking sanitation workers in Memphis. Many of us are familiar with the closing lines of Dr. King’s final speech, delivered on the day before he was assassinated:

We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Many people don’t know that in this speech Dr. King referenced one of Jesus’ most famous stories: the parable of the Good Samaritan. This story, recorded in Luke 10:25-37, focuses on the responses of three men as they encounter another man in crisis. Jesus told this story in response to a lawyer’s question: “Who is my neighbor?”

When a priest saw the man who had been beaten and robbed and left for dead along the road to Jericho, he assessed the situation and chose not to act, passing by on the other side of the road. When a Levite (another religious leader) saw the wounded man, he likewise chose not to help, passing by on the other side. But when a Samaritan man saw the injured man, he displayed compassion, tending to the man’s wounds, taking the man to an inn where he could recuperate, pledging to pay for all expenses the innkeeper incurred as he cared for the man. At the conclusion of the story, Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus responded, “Go and do likewise.”

Many people have speculated about why the priest and the Levite chose to ignore the one who was suffering on the road to Jericho. Some have postulated that the priest and the Levite were adhering to religious purity laws, but these laws did not prevent people from rendering aid in emergencies. In his final speech, Dr. King suggested that the priest and the Levite chose not to help because they were afraid of what might happen to them. Were the robbers still lurking nearby? Was this man faking injuries to lure them into a trap? Would they be attacked and robbed if they stopped to help?

Dr. King asserts that the questions that the three passersby asked when they encountered the injured man were intrinsically different. The priest and the Levite asked, “If I stopped to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” (https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/ive-been-mountaintop-address-delivered-bishop-charles-mason-temple)

At The Next Door, we function more like the innkeeper in the parable. People in need are brought to us for healing or come to us on their own seeking help. But we live in a wider world where we must make decisions about whether will choose to engage with our neighbors who are suffering. Do we count the cost and choose to pass by on the other side, ignoring their suffering? Or will we choose to take responsibility for the welfare of our neighbors, lending aid as best we can to those who have been marginalized, those who are wounded and weary? If we do not stop to help, what will happen to our neighbors?

May we show mercy to our clients at The Next Door and to our neighbors in need beyond these doors, today and always.

Published on January 18, 2021

When I Grow Up

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney   

During the pandemic, my extended family has gathered weekly via Zoom to stay in touch. With participants ranging in age from 7 months to 81 years, these experiences have been memorable and life-giving for us.

One feature of these virtual gatherings is a trivia game, and if a family member has a birthday coming up, then the trivia game focuses on them. One of the standard questions is: “When I was a child, what did I want to be when I grew up?” The answers have been enlightening and hilarious.

When I was a child, I wanted to be a reporter. I started my own newspaper in 6th grade; as I recall, the issues of this short-lived publication focused almost exclusively on the Cincinnati Reds. During junior high school, I considered becoming a meteorologist, primarily because I was a huge fan of Tom Siler the Weather Wizard on Channel 2.

Looking back, I can now see how my desire to become a reporter was rooted in my love of reading and writing, which eventually blossomed into a fondness for researching, teaching, and storytelling. When I responded to God’s prompting in my life to go to seminary, I was confident that writing and teaching would be a part of my calling. Although I was initially surprised while in seminary by my newfound love of preaching, I realize now that it was an outgrowth of my desire to share stories.

As I listen to the stories that the clients share at The Next Door in group settings and in one-on-one sessions, I am aware that none of them dreamed of becoming an addict when they grew up. None of them hoped to become homeless. No one set a goal to spend time in jail. None of them desired to have children and then lose them to state custody.

Even though their lives have not turned out the way they imagined, many of our clients cling to the hope that the future can be different. As they embrace a newfound faith in God or recommit their lives to following the God they first learned about as children, they are optimistic that new dreams are within reach. They sense that their lives are now on an upward trajectory. They are growing spiritually as healing takes place in their bodies, minds, and spirits.

At mid-life, I have been surprised to realize that I still don’t feel like a grown up. I am aware that I still have a lot of growing to do; I still have so much to learn. The faith in Christ that I embraced as a child has been transformed and deepened through the years. Like our clients, I am still growing up spiritually. God has given me new dreams, and I am grateful.

 

A prayer for spiritual growth: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please God in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9-14)

Spread the Word

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.’

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:8-20)

The meal was memorable for a myriad of reasons. On the fifth anniversary of my ordination to the gospel ministry, I found myself in a place I had never dreamed I would visit. My traveling companions and I were seated on couches situated around low tables in a Bedouin-style tent decorated with ornate tapestries and rugs. Our table was laden with bowls of hummus, babaghanouj, tzatziki, and tabouli, baskets of freshly baked bread, plates of kebabs. As we feasted, the rabbi and pastor and I shared stories and laughed heartily.

What great joy I experienced during that remarkable meal in Beit Sahour, a village located on the road leading from the Shepherds’ Fields to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Throughout the meal, my gaze was repeatedly drawn to those pastoral fields ringed by mountains. What did those shepherds – who were simply going about their business, dutifully carrying out their nightly work of protecting their flocks – witness on the night of Jesus’ birth?

The angel of the Lord delivered a message to the shepherds that night that remains as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

Don’t be afraid.
I bring you good news.
A Savior has been born to you.

The shepherds’ response is noteworthy: Let us go and see for ourselves if this good news is true. After confirming the veracity of the angel’s report, the shepherds did what came naturally: They spread the word about the good news of Christ’s birth. They bore witness to God’s work in the world.

On Christmas Day in 2020 – this unforgettable year – the angel’s ancient message falls fresh on our ears again, offering us renewed hope, speaking peace into our weary souls, infusing our hearts with joy.

Don’t be afraid.
I bring you good news.
A Savior has been born to you.

God is still at work in our world. God continues to redeem us, revive us, restore us. Let us glorify and praise God for all the things we have heard and seen.

Published on December 25, 2020

Monday Meditation: Fourth Week of Advent

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

The week of Christmas has arrived. As the days of Advent dwindle, our thoughts turn to love – the final theological theme of this holy season of spiritual preparation. “Love” is a word we use frequently in conversation, but often in a way that diminishes its meaning. For instance, “I love ice cream!”

The love of God as described in Scripture is relational, self-sacrificing, and unconditional. The celebration of Christmas focuses on God’s expression of love for the world through Christ: “This is how God showed his love among us: God sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). Our spiritual preparation during this season of Advent has been preparing us to worship the newborn King, yet the baby cannot remain in the manger.

In his daily meditation yesterday, Father Richard Rohr reflected on God’s love as expressed through Christ:

“The celebration of Christmas is not merely a sentimental waiting for a baby to be born. It is much more an asking for history to be born! Creation groans in its birth pains, waiting for our participation with God in its renewal (see Romans 8:20–23). We do the Gospel no favor when we make Jesus, the Eternal Christ, into a perpetual baby, who asks little or no adult response from us. One even wonders what kind of mind would want to keep Jesus a baby. Maybe only one that is content with ‘baby Christianity.’

“Any spirituality that makes too much of the baby Jesus is perhaps not yet ready for ‘prime-time’ life. God clearly wants friends and partners to be images of divinity, if we are to believe the biblical texts. God, it seems, wants mature religion and a thoughtful, free response from us. God loves us in partnership, with mutual give and take, and we eventually become the God that we love.

Just as Mary pondered in her heart the meaning of Jesus’ birth, this week ponder what it means to be an image of divinity, a conduit of God’s love on earth.

Published on December 21, 2020

Monday Meditation: Third Week of Advent

– Written by Rev. Tambi Swiney

Yesterday morning, I lit the rose-colored candle in our Advent wreath as my husband and I worshiped via Zoom – the candle of joy. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday – the Latin word gaudete means “rejoice.” In many churches, these words from Philippians 4:4-6 were sung or read: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Rejoice! How do we rejoice when 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment?

Rejoice! How do we rejoice when drug overdoses in the U.S. continue to rise, having tripled over the past two decades?

Rejoice! How do we rejoice when women in our community continue to be abused and trafficked?

Rejoice! How do we rejoice when people of color continue to suffer from the ongoing effects of generations of racism in this country?

Rejoice! How do we rejoice in the midst of a global pandemic as loved ones suffer and die?

Rejoicing is an act of defiance. Rejoicing is way of resisting the temptation to give into hopelessness. Rejoicing takes spiritual discipline.

The writer Alex Haley was known for saying, “Find the good and praise it.” Perhaps we could modify his words and say, “Look for where God is at work and praise God.” We must learn to pay attention – reasons to rejoice remain present in our work and in our world.

We can rejoice because women continue to come to TND seeking treatment for their addictions. We can rejoice because lives are being saved as God works through us. We can rejoice because women are safe in our care.

Despite the challenges of 2020, we can rejoice as we light the rose candle. Kate Bowler observes, “Though it seems that joy is in short supply and despair reigns supreme, this candle suggests that there is something more for which you were made. It is the oxygen that makes it possible for you to keep going.”

Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12

Published on December 14, 2020

Celebrating World AIDS Day

– Written by Tina Ross at NashvilleCARES

Celebrating World Aids Day

World AIDS Day was founded in 1988 to commemorate those who have passed away from AIDS related illnesses, provides an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV, and to show support for those living with HIV. With new scientific advances in treatment, people who contract the virus rarely advance to an AIDS diagnosis. We now have hope that one day there will be a cure, but for now, medication is key to being successful living with HIV and preventing HIV infection.  We now know that if an HIV infected person takes their medication as prescribed, with no missed doses, they will get to what we call “undetectable.”  This simply means that there is so little virus in the body it cannot be spread through sex. It has not been tested and proven through sharing needles.

What is HIV and how do you become infected?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells.  CD4 cells are critical in fighting infection and play an important role in immune function; when these cells are depleted, the immune system becomes impaired.  A normal range of these cells in a human are 500-1200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.

Ways to get HIV:                                                                                                                       

  • Sharing needles
  • Unprotected sex
  • Though very rare, mother to child transmission does happen

Fluids that contain HIV:

  • Seminal fluid
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Blood
  • Breast Milk
  • Rectal fluid

Women who are HIV positive are advised not to breastfeed and usually have C-section deliveries to control the bleeding and to avoid vaginal fluid.  As treatment advances, the only time we see mother to child transmission is when a mother is not in prenatal care.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, and it can develop in a person who is HIV+.  An AIDS diagnosis is determined if the CD4 cell number falls to 200 or below or if a person develops an opportunistic infection. With testing as a prevention method, early diagnosis and treatment help ensure that those who are HIV+ will never see an AIDS diagnosis.

Contrary to what people think, we do not test for AIDS (there is no test for this), we test for the virus that can cause AIDS, which is HIV. AIDS is a diagnosis that only a doctor can give based on a group of symptoms occurring together. An AIDS diagnosis doesn’t mean a person will die. With treatment, a person can come out of an AIDS diagnosis, and their immune system can build back up to fight infection.  We call this a recovery because a treatment regimen must be followed to maintain a healthy immune system.  Stopping HIV medication can cause the immune system to become severely impaired again, placing someone back in the AIDS category.

HIV Statistics Among Women

Per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), HIV diagnoses have declined in women in recent years; however more than 7,000 women in the US received an HIV diagnosis in 2018.  Most of the infections among women were attributed to heterosexual contact, that’s around 85% (6,130 cases).  Injection drug use among women made up 15% (1,049 cases). With COVID, these numbers will increase, as many women have relapsed.

African American women account for 57% of new diagnoses.  That’s around 4,114 out of the 7,000 diagnosed in 2018.  Caucasian women made up 21% (1,526 cases), and Hispanic women made up 18% (1,264 cases).  The majority of these women fell in the age group of 13-45, mostly child bearing years. Women who abuse drugs are at a higher risk not only because of sharing needles but because many women resort to selling sex in exchange for drugs.

Additionally, factors like homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, mental health issues, lack of access to healthcare, etc can increase a woman’s risk of contracting HIV. Unfortunately, women are usually the caregivers of the household, and they often put other’s health ahead of their own. The Office of Women’s Health leads National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which happens every year on March 10.

About Nashville CARES and My House Clinic

Nashville CARES was founded in 1985, and we are  the premier HIV/AIDS service organization in Tennessee.  From 2018-2019 we served more than 50,000 individuals living with HIV and those that are at risk for HIV. Due to COVID-19, our clinic is closed, but we continue to provide essential services to our current clients. We are providing nutrition services and case management with our active clients, and we are doing drive-thru HIV and HepC testing every Friday throughout the rest of the year.

For those that cannot make it on Friday to get tested, we can mail out a home test kit discreetly with instructions on how to administer the test.  mission is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Middle Tennessee by providing education/outreach, advocacy, and most importantly supporting those at risk or living with HIV.  We now have a clinic located at 442 Metroplex Drive, Bldg D, Nashville, TN 37211, telephone 615-499-7502.

With our clinic now open, we are treating new diagnoses the same day, thanks to Gilead Sciences.  We also offer PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) and PEP (Post-exposure Prophylaxis) to individuals that are at a higher risk of getting HIV or have been exposed to HIV.  You can visit our website www.nashvillecares.org, to find out more about what we do and how you can volunteer.

Margaret

One of our beloved clients and volunteers, Margaret, was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 as a result of using a dirty needle shooting cocaine.  She was a drug runner, she prostituted, and she did whatever she needed to do to support herself and her drug addiction. Her addiction was so severe that a nearly fatal trip to the ER in September 2000 wasn’t enough to convince her to change her habits. She was convicted of felony drug charges the day before her 54th birthday. She served her sentence along with eight years of parole before finally making lasting changes in her life.

Upon her release from prison, Margaret had to do 240 hours of community service, so she walked in Nashville CARES to work off her hours. She completed all her service hours, continued to volunteer, and took advantage of groups that was available to clients of CARES.  Through volunteering and sharing her story with others, Margaret has maintained her sobriety and attributes that all to Nashville CARES and the staff that continues to support her through her journey.  Today, Margaret is still very much involved. Even during COVID, she shows up every Tuesday and Wednesday to help with the distribution of food to our clients.

Miss Margaret (that’s what we call her) does whatever she can to give back. She has raised more than $2,000 for agency fundraisers, speaks at various events, and she also goes to Washington D.C. for AIDS Watch, an annual advocacy event. Miss Margaret also gives back to the recovery community by volunteering every year at Recovery Fest and speaking at women’s treatment facilities.

RESOURCES:

Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U)
HIV Testing
PrEP information
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Published on December 10, 2020