Adviser Selected to Attend National AIDS Conference
Sept. 16, 2008
Karen Stepherson, the study abroad adviser in the Office of International Education, is one of four people from Texas chosen to attend the 2008 United States Conference on AIDS hosted by The National Minority AIDS Council.
Conference sponsor American Airlines chooses four people from each state and from the faith-based community to attend the conference. The conference is Sept. 17-21 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
More than 3,000 workers from all fronts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic attend the conference each year to build national support networks, exchange new information and learn cutting-edge tools to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS.
Stepherson says she is deeply honored to attend. “I'm more passionate today about the fight against HIV/AIDS than I've ever been due to the fact that the numbers are so high in the African-American and Latino communities.”
In 1992, Stepherson was introduced to a family friend of her cousin who was secretly living with an advanced case of AIDS. After the friend died from AIDS complications, and not the prostate cancer he had told everyone he had, Stepherson’s curiosity about the nature of the disease was piqued. She said that, at the time, she thought that only gay, white males and Haitians carried the disease, as that was the popular opinion of the time.
After gathering information from AIDS agencies and going through care team training, Stepherson realized it was a disease affecting the entire world.
Stepherson joined her church’s AIDS ministry in 1996. She has worked as a caregiver to those infected with the disease and helped raise more than $60,000 in recent years for Dallas County HIV/AIDS agencies.
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