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TAN hosts AIDS walk

By Reesha Brown

The News staff writer

Some walked looking for a Saturday morning thrill, others for the exercise, but the bulk of individuals who attended the Triangle AIDS Walk strolled down the streets of Beaumont to raise awareness and bring about change in the community.

Hosted by Triangle AIDS Network, in recognition of National Black AIDS Awareness Day on Sunday, more than 150 Southeast Texas volunteers united at the YMCA, 3455 Sarah Street. There, they encouraged participants to get tested and learn more about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The epidemic is very prevalent in Jefferson County, Jarrett Jones, prevention specialist with the local Aids network, said.

“The theme of this event is ‘It’s time’, which is self explanatory,” Jones said. “In terms of statistics, in 2008 Beaumont was ranked 10th in the state of individuals with HIV. Jefferson County was ranked number one in Syphilis per capita in the U.S.”

Ebony Taylor, 27, an HIV victim, said she not only wanted to complete the 3.4 mile AIDS walk, but is “willing to do the whole nine, or whatever it takes to reach out to others and make a difference”.

“I found out I was HIV positive in 2007 and I was angry and upset with God and I just felt like he had done this to me,” Taylor said. “But once I started diagnosing myself and I heard the word I realized he did this to me because he wanted me to share my experience with others.”

At first, Taylor was unsure why the walk was so important but suddenly had an epiphany and realized Saturday’s walkers were there to support others like her who have AIDS or HIV.

Although this is the first time members of the Triangle AIDS Network have hosted this event, according to Lois Roy, outreach worker and organizer with Triangle AIDS Network, this will not be the last.

“I was very excited to put this together because HIV is so prevalent in the black community and it’s great because it is Black History Month,” she said.

Triangle AIDS Network, located in Beaumont, is a non-profit organization founded in response to the growing health crisis of HIV and AIDS in Southeast Texas.

Ricky Darjean, a client with Triangle AIDS Network for 20 years said he has been non-detectable for six years and counting and plans to keep it that way by doing his part and participating in future events like the Triangle AIDS Walk.

“I’m walking because I’m a client of TAN and I’m helping to support those who are not educated because you got to get the word out there.”

rbrown@panews.com