AIDS Arms combats the many faces of HIV

November 3, 2011 by · Comments Off 

BEYOND THE BUBBLE

By Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

Standing in front of a microphone, 52-year-old Edith Lang prepares for her solo. When she opens her mouth and begins to sing, she fills The Ark Church in Oak Cliff with the sound of her voice.

In 1998, Lang discovered her minister husband of one year was HIV positive. During a doctor’s visit, she saw his paperwork said HIV and “then it had this little plus sign on the side of it.” She later learned he had been aware of his status for 14 years.

Lang tested positive herself one month later. Her husband divorced her afterwards. Instead of letting grief consume her, Lang took solace in her family, friends and church.

Starting in 2000, Lang began using the Oak Lawn based nonprofit AIDS Arms Inc. to help with medical care and other needs. With their help she became a symbol of strength to her community and church and today works as a peer advocate for women with HIV.

“I have gone through some periods of time in my life where I wasn’t working,” Lang said. “They stepped up and did what needed to be done.”

On Oct. 11, AIDS Arms celebrated the grand opening of its Trinity Health & Wellness Clinic on Sunset Avenue in Oak Lawn. Coupled with its clinic on Peabody Avenue in Fair Park, AIDS Arms plans to provide more services for those with HIV, including a growing number of minority patients.

The new clinic is able to provide affordable health care for up to 2,500 people. Many of these patients are unable to afford treatment from a private doctor.

In 2010, AIDS Arms provided HIV testing, medical services and casework for 10,768 people. Forty-six percent of the people served were black, like Lang, 36 percent were white, 17 percent were Hispanic/Latino and one percent were listed as other.

Dallas County Health & Human Services reported in 2010, of the estimated 14,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Dallas county, 40 percent were black, 39 percent were white, 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were categorized as other, according to a 2010 report by the Dallas County Health & Human Services reported the black population had the highest concentration of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses, with 452 in 2010. The white population had the second highest concentration, with 219.

“In the African American community, we’re still not waking up to the fact that this is an epidemic,” said Dr. Evans, a doctor with AIDS Arms.

AIDS Arms also offers aid to illegal immigrants. Win Speicher, a case worker for the organization, said these individuals are often are more focused on providing food, shelter and other basic necessities for themselves than treating their infection. Without AIDS Arms helping they would be left untreated. These people constitute part of the 6,400 people with HIV in Dallas that are uninsured.

Sixty percent of people served by AIDS Arms have no health insurance and more than 90 percent live below the federal poverty level.

HIV, however, is not limited to those who are impoverished. While sitting in a coffee shop in Uptown, a 28-year-old man who chose to remain anonymous, said a combination of substance abuse and unprotected sex led to his contraction of the virus in 2009.

The man was kicked out of medical school at UT Southwestern in January 2010. Eventually drained of resources, he turned to rehabilitation in March and AIDS Arms in April.

“All of my care now goes through AIDS Arms,” he said.

Apart from medical care, AIDS Arms works as a referral agency providing HIV positive people with outside resources, like housing, transportation and financial assistance. The new Trinity clinic will also provide daycare services for children of patients while they are seeking treatment.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reports that 21 percent of people with HIV do not know they are infected. It is estimated that 15,000 people in Texas do not know they have the virus.

According to Lang, people are often ignorant of the dangers of HIV. She believes a lack of education about the virus has left people vulnerable to it.

“They feel like what they don’t know won’t hurt them, and that’s the wrong thought,” said Lang.

Raeline Nobles, the executive director of AIDS Arms, believes when people go in for the treatment they are helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

Nobles acknowledges that barriers like poverty and a stigma about how the virus is spread make it difficult for people with HIV to seek help. She said that in cultures of poverty, where people have less access to education, economic opportunity and medical care, talking about HIV is especially difficult.

“You feel ostracized, isolated and that you can not ask for help from the community you count on,” said Nobles.

Nobles adds that people in these conditions are less likely to look for treatment because of the fear that family, friends and neighbors will find out about their HIV status.

The negative stigma of how HIV is spread also makes it difficult for people to admit they have the virus.

“People don’t understand the only way, almost, that you can get HIV is unprotected sex and dirty needles,” said Speicher.

The main office for AIDS Arms is located on 351 West Jefferson Blvd. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas 75208 and can be reached at (214) 521-5191.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Nosh

April 7, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Natalie Blankenship
nblankensh@smu.edu

(Braised short ribs/ PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP/ SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Rating:
Atmosphere:
Service:
Food Quality:
Price: $$$

Although we dropped in last minute and didn’t have reservations, Nosh stepped up their game and managed to deliver an excellent experience even though we were crammed in the back corner eating at a tiny table meant just for drinks.

It was a Saturday night and the place was overflowing with people—and noise. Located on 4216 Oak Lawn Ave, Nosh occupies a tiny space for such a large following. Because the tables were so close together and the room was so small, it was hard to hear. On top of this, there wasn’t much of an atmosphere…not to mention the prices on the menu were deterring me.

I ordered a glass of Malbec, a $9 glass of Malbec. I knew I was overpaying, but on top of this I was served what appeared to be one fourth of a glass. I wasn’t going to let that fly. I spoke to our waiter (who I assume was a manager) and asked him politely if I could have some wine added to my glass. He told me they measured each glass before pouring, but assured me he would gladly add some for me. And he did just that.

(Kobe burger/ PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP/ SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

We ordered the espresso braised beef short rib, which was delicious. The flavor was rich and the meat just melted in your mouth. But, now that I come to think of it, it did not come with the promised sides of cheddar stone grits and blistered tomatoes. And I was looking forward to trying the grits! The portion was tiny (only two ribs for $17) but I guess the flavors made us forget that detail.

The Nosh stacked kobe burger wasn’t that special. It was good, a bit overcooked, and tasted like just any other burger. You would think a $14 burger would explode in your mouth or something, but no. It tasted like the burgers you can order on the beach. Nothing special.

In addition to our entrees, we couldn’t resist the temptation of a side of the parmesan fries. We had to wait about five extra minutes for them (which we didn’t even notice because we were too busy trying the rest of the food), and the waiter came rushing over apologizing for the wait on our fries and brought us another round of drinks on the house. It was surprising and very nice, and I definitely got my $9 worth of Malbec. Our fries appeared a minute later and were by far the best part of the meal. Delicious.

To end our experience at Nosh we ordered the warm chocolate soufflé cake with smore ice cream. Maybe this was the best part of the meal. The consistency was perfection and the chocolate was so rich and yummy.

I’d say if you’re going to Nosh, be sure to make a reservation and prepare to spend some money. Also, don’t order a burger when you go here.

The Drybar Gives Blowouts at Affordable Prices

March 4, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Lisa Collins
lccollins@smu.edu

(PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP/ SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Want to put a little extra bounce in your step, and in your hair? Make an appointment at Drybar on Oak Lawn.

Drybar, which opened in Dallas on February 11th, is a hair salon with one service and one service only – blowouts.

Dallas is lucky to be the first city outside of California to have a Drybar, although the franchise is quickly expanding, with Newport Beach and Scottsdale locations opening this month.

Their philosophy is to be the best at what they do and to offer blowouts at an affordable price – $35 a pop.

For the attentive service and girly, fun atmosphere, the price is definitely worth it. The cheery yellow and white color palette immediately lifts your spirits, and guests are provided with complimentary cucumber water or champagne as chick flicks like Bride Wars play on flat screen TVs.

Once seated, you are handed a menu of styles to select from that range from “Mai Tai” (messy and beachy), “Manhattan” (sleek and smooth) to “Southern Comfort” (lots of volume – something tells me this style will be a hit in Dallas).

With a sensitive scalp, I am typically wary when hair stylists try to be extra aggressive during a shampoo. However, my stylist gave me one of the best scalp massages I have ever had. Ten extra dollars buys you a “floater,” an extra ten-minute scalp massage during your shampoo. Although I did not partake, I have a feeling it is worth it.

Although I am typically a “Manhattan” kind of girl – happy with anything that keeps my crazy hair sleek and smooth with a touch of volume – I went with the “Cosmopolitan” (loose curls) to try something new. I was thrilled with the amount of care my stylist put into each curl – going well over the allotted 30-minute time slot.

With a head full of three or four times the amount of hair as an average person, I am used to having to pay for overtime or double book hair appointments. It was clear to me that no matter what type of hair or what type of style you are looking for, they will do their best to accommodate you and make your experience enjoyable.

A word to control freaks out there – there are no mirrors. For those who are used to keeping an eye on every move their stylist makes and commenting on every curl, you are forced to keep your mouth shut. In a way, it can force you to relax. And you won’t be disappointed with the end result.

To book an appointment go to www.thedrybar.com