Alyssa Gallo, Toni Michelle White, Dechelle Richardson and Jennifer Campos pose before the banners featuring their faces. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

A new campaign aims to end the looming HIV epidemic in Los Angeles County as well as educate people about sexually transmitted diseases.

The collaborative initiative, sponsored by The AMAAD Institute (Arming Minorities Against Addiction and Disease), the Wellness Center, and the Department of Public Health, includes vibrant banners featuring Black and Brown women affected by the disease.

The new displays were unveiled during a mixer on Feb. 10, at AMAAD’s headquarters in the Watts district of South L.A.

Mother and daughter Patsy Lawson and Lynnea Garbutt share a beautiful banner. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

Explaining the impetus for the event, Leticia St. Remy, AMAAD program manager, said, “What we’re doing is creating a space for visibility for women of color in the conversation of HIV because when you think about HIV, you don’t think of women of color at all.

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“So, we’re honoring them – for one, just existing and two, having the courage and tenacity to thrive through all of the barriers and social determinants that they may encounter,” noted St. Remy.

“With this event, we hope to spotlight these women and encourage people to start getting connected to resources in their community and not live in shame anymore.”

Leticia St. Remy and Dechelle Richardson (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

Among the women recognized were Dechelle Richardson, Robin Barkins, Wanda London, Lynnea Garbutt, Patsy Lawson, Toni Michelle White, Toni White, Alyssa Gallo, Kanishia Jackson, Gianna Bewernick, and Jennifer Campos.  Some of them also appear on the banners that will be installed on streets throughout the Southland.

The campaign joins the myriad of services offered by The AMAAD Institute to assist people, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community, in living, learning, and developing to their fullest potential.  Programs range from transitional housing to youth development and diversion to reentry services and HIV testing, prevention, education and empowerment.

Each woman shared how HIV affected her life. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

Stressing the importance of HIV testing, Richardson said, “We want women of color to thrive and thriving is knowing your status and being in control of your sexual health and creating a space where you can advocate for yourself.”

“Visit and get a home test,” added St. Remy. “Have sexual health as a community conversation and understand that it’s a community responsibility. We want people to know this across all demographics – men, women, and teens!”

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