Facebook Twitter

2 UTAHNS HONORED FOR EFFORTS TO EDUCATE WOMEN WHO ARE AT GREATEST RISK OF CONTRACTING AIDS

SHARE 2 UTAHNS HONORED FOR EFFORTS TO EDUCATE WOMEN WHO ARE AT GREATEST RISK OF CONTRACTING AIDS

This is the second wave of the AIDS epidemic. Heterosexual women are dying now, in ever-increasing numbers.

Some Utahns saw it coming and have been training and volunteering, through the American Red Cross, trying to educate the women at greatest risk.Lately, two Utah women have been honored for their efforts. E. Faye Wine, Salt Lake City, and Veronica Thomas, Clinton, Davis County, are both Red Cross volunteers who have developed their own programs for AIDS education.

Thomas, an Air Force sergeant, was named one of five "Women Who Go Above and Beyond," in a national contest sponsored by the Revlon cosmetic company and Essence magazine. Thomas won $1,000 and a trip to New York City to attend an awards dinner with Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun, D-Ill., and others.

Thomas is a volunteer teacher in both the military and private sector. The Air Force, recognizing her sensitive approach to the delicate subject of condoms, has adopted her distribution program for servicemen and women.

Wine, who works for Utah Power & Light, founded the Utah Coalition of African-American Women. AIDS education is the coalition's main philanthropy.

For her AIDS volunteer work, Wine recently received an honorary doctorate of letters from the Aspen Theological Seminary in Colorado. In addition, Wine - and the education program she designed - were featured on an AIDS educational television program. (A free showing of the program, "Women and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic" will be held at the American Red Cross building, 1391 S. Park St., Thursday, July 21, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.)

Wine became a training instructor for the Red Cross because she's alarmed by the numbers of people, and especially women of color, who are dying from AIDS.

In 10 large East Coast cities last year, AIDS was the leading cause of death among blackwomen ages 25 to 44 years. Hispanic women are also at greater risk than the general population - although among all U.S. women in this age group, AIDS has become the sixth leading cause of death. The rate of increase of AIDS among women is now greater than the rate of increase of AIDS among men.

In the past, the majority of women who tested HIV positive got the virus from drug needles. But last year, for the first time, the trend shifted. In 1992, more than half the women who tested positive for HIV were infected by their male sex partners.

Wine sees the problem as one of self-esteem. "We all want love," she says. Being able to say no to sex - or at the very least, being able to say no to unprotected sex - is the basis of her self-esteem, AIDS education work. If a woman has low self-esteem, if she feels the only way she can hold a man's interest is by having sex with him, she's going to do it, says Wine. "But no one is worth dying for."

Wine and the other members of the Coalition of African-American Women like to call each other sisterfriends. "That's all one word." The word implies a deep level of caring about each other's future.

Even though she doesn't know the nearly 28,000 U.S. women who have been diagnosed with AIDS, Wine says they are her sisterfriends, too.