Health Department program seeks to educate black women about protecting themselves from AIDS

Sep 14, 2012

A program starting next Monday in Omaha seeks to give black women the empowerment tools they need to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The program is called SISTA—which stands for Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS. It involves six sessions, focusing on self-esteem, relationships, and sexual health. Sherri Nared, STD/HIV prevention specialist for the Douglas County Health Department, says a disproportionate number of the HIV and AIDS cases in Douglas County are east of 72nd Street and north of L Street.

Nared hopes the program will remove the stigma associated with being tested for HIV.  "A lot of people sometimes just don’t want to know. But I believe that when you learn more about the virus and how it affects every day people, you will be more likely to get yourself tested. HIV is no longer the death sentence that it used to be in the past. You can be positive for HIV and live a long, healthy life, you just have to take your medication."

By educating black women about preventing HIV and AIDS, Nared hopes it’ll empower women to know their risks and take action.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says as of 2010, there were 1,737 cases of AIDS statewide. Of those, 55 percent were in the white community.