The Mayor’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS recognized World AIDS Day by showing a screening of the movie, ‘5B’ at the Bristol Library in early December. The movie was about a group of nurses at San Francisco General that decided to care for AIDS patients in their 5B ward instead of isolating them like some of their colleagues had done during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s.
“This is a worldwide event to raise awareness, education. It’s an opportunity to share resources that are available,” said Valerie Ingram, Mayor’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS Chairperson. “Knowledge is power. There are many heterosexual women that now have HIV. When the virus first came—hence the movie, it was gay white men, intravenous drug users. You don’t have to have that stigma attached to you, or label in order to be someone who has HIV.”
Ingram said that anyone that puts themselves at risk can still get HIV. There are many heterosexual women who’ve never had a risk, but were introduced to HIV by their partners, and they were married.
The nurses in the movie went above and beyond, showing compassion and treating their patients like people, instead of like they were less than or toxic because of their condition. They even made skin-to-skin contact with their patients, such as hand holding, and helping them without using any gloves, or hazmat-type uniforms, which became controversial.
Denise, who is a Medical Case Manager at the Community Health Center attended the event, and deals with patients like the nurses in the movie.
“We have hospitals that call us, we have other case managers, we have a referral system through 2-1-1. We get referrals from physicians, that maybe they’ll see someone who tests positive for the first time, and they’ll hand off that person to me,” said Denise. “I can do home visits, I can have a client from anywhere; all our referrals can come from anywhere.”
“We still see the same stories of rejection, of denials from physicians, struggle of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction. Gay rights being a huge factor in people not having their human rights,” said Denise.
Denise said that she became a Medical Case Manager after having worked at a place in Meriden that helps domestic violence victims. Many of the women were HIV positive, so she learned a lot about HIV, and when she found out that the Community Health Center had a job opening, she went for it, and has been working for them for over 16 years now.
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