Local HIV community hopes tragedy will bring awareness

TYLER (KYTX)-A team of HIV and AIDS experts heading to an international conference were on the Malaysia Airlines plane shot down yesterday. 

Local HIV and AIDS leaders are mourning the loss of some very influential researchers in the HIV and AIDS community, but they hope this tragedy will bring awareness to finding a cure for this terrible virus.

Demetra Daredeen is living with HIV and says for the first time in twenty two years she has come to terms with having the disease.

"This year I've got to the point in my life where it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about me. I cant stop living because no one wants to be my friend or accept me, it's ok, today its ok," Daredeen said.

One local organization helped her get to that point.

"I never knew that I could be loved by other people who weren't in my shoes and East Texas Cares Resource Center has showed me a lot of love and has also gave me the courage and willingness to accept my issue and just deal with it," Daredeen said.

Dr. Jeaneatte Deas Calhoun is the executive director of East Texas Cares, an organization that provides services to people with HIV and AIDS.

She says the number of people diagnosed with HIV in Tyler is growing and hopes a cure is found soon.

"Well continue to work until we can eradicate and lower these numbers and maybe someone who was on that plane is working on something close to a cure so we're just going to hope that somebody else replaces that person and that we get a cure in short time," Dr. Calhoun said.

To slow that growth, Calhoun and her organization speak to young people to teach them about safe sexual practices.

Daredeen is planning on doing that exact thing, public speaking to tell people her story.

"There's a lot of people out there that are hurting and are not as strong as i am dealing with this hiv and if i feel like i can help them I'm going to reach out and try to help them, i feel like that's my calling," Daredeen said.

And though finding a cure is the most important thing, the people over at East Texas Cares Resource Center are also working to erase the stigma that surrounds a person with the disease.



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