Partnership To End AIDS Status

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Addressing Issues About HIV

PEAS Inc. founded November 1, 2009 by a group of female advocates dedicated to the eradication of HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in the communities of Memphis. The founders of PEAS Inc. have a combined 21 years of multidisciplinary experience. The PEAS Inc. staff has assisted in the community level efforts to assess service gaps, community needs, and coordinate and plan the allocation of resources for persons living with HIV/AIDS experiencing multiple disparities. 

Simultaneously, the staff is equally involved in the assessment of needs and service delivery of diffused effective behavioral interventions, etc. for those at risk of HIV exposure. Furthermore, PEAS Inc. staff shares the desire to maintain an organization committed to meeting the needs of the community members where they lie. One of the major goals of PEAS Inc. is to deliver services and comprehensive HIV education to the most highly affected community during their “vulnerable hours” (after business hours and weekends).

Most of PEAS Inc.’s recipients of services will be essentially 85% African American, English-speaking, and predominantly from the Memphis and Shelby county area. Approximately 80% of the recipients of services provided by PEAS Inc. will include women and children due to large numbers of or high percentage of single-parent or women-headed homes in the Memphis TGA area. 

Southern States are known for numerous characteristics that place area residents at high-risk for living unhealthy and compromised lives (e.g., poverty; a dearth of decent jobs; a significant number of residents with low educational attainment; high rates of crime, illegitimate births, and unemployment; and low median household income).

According to the epidemiological data for Memphis TGA area, African American females of childbearing age have contributed significantly to the high number of cases reported since 1992. The high rate of HIV/AIDS cases continues into the 21st century according to the epidemiological profile from the Memphis/Shelby County Health Department. Although Blacks accounted for 16% of the population, they comprised 54% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Tennessee. 

Black women were 80% of the cases among women in the State. In 2006, Blacks were 90% of new HIV/AIDS cases in Shelby County. Black women accounted for 93% of HIV/AIDS cases among women in 2006. In that same year, women ages 25-44 were 55% of the HIV/AIDS cases in Shelby County. The number of new infections among Blacks in Shelby County has been increasing since 2003. 

Shelby County, Tennessee is located in the most southwestern part of the State of Tennessee. According to the US Census, the population of Shelby County is 911,438, and 51% of the population is Black. 

The City of Memphis, the urban hub of the region, is located on the Mississippi River in Shelby County, TN. The City of Memphis is 61% Black. It is characterized by a high rate of poverty (21%) which is found primarily within the African American community, and is attributable to low education levels, underemployment, and low-wage service jobs. 

Levels of education directly impact the ability of an individual to process information about health care and act upon it in her own best interest. Socioeconomic and cultural conditions have set the stage in many ways for the current HIV/AIDS epidemic.

LaRonia Hurd-Sawyer, RN, MSN-CNL, MPH

Executive Director; Founder 2009

LaRonia D. Hurd-Sawyer, RN, MSN-CNL, MPH 

Ms. LaRonia Hurd-Sawyer holds a Masters of Public Health from University of Memphis (2009), Master of Nursing with emphasis on Clinical Nurse Leader UT Memphis (2015), Mrs. Hurd-Sawyer's graduate thesis focuses on the incarcerated male population and HIV/AIDS in the South. 

Ms Hurd-Sawyer completed her graduate internship at the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department where she researched and compiled the 2008 Syphilis Rapid Ethnographic Community Assessment Report for the Memphis/Shelby County area. 

Ms. Hurd-Sawyer has been invited to present her research findings at numerous HIV/AIDS and mental health conferences in the Southern states. LaRonia is the Executive Director and one the founder of Partnership To End AIDS Status Inc. (PEAS Inc) that was formed in November 1, 2009 by a group of women to eliminate HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in Memphis communities. 

The mission and goal of PEAS Inc. is to deliver services and comprehensive HIV to the most highly affected communities during vulnerable hours in non-traditional settings. PEAS Inc has served more than 5,000 residents in the Memphis and Shelby County area. LaRonia is certified through the Centers for Disease Control to facilitate SISTA/D-UP/TWISTA. 

She is also employed as the Outreach Coordinator/Research Nurse with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the Infectious Disease Department and eagerly engages in street outreach/condom distribution in her spare time. LaRonia presently serves on the March of Dimes Program Services Committee, Memphis and Shelby County Health Department’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Health Professionals Committee, Mid-South Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Connect 2 Protect Coalition, and Syphilis Elimination Coalition. 

LaRonia is certified by the State of Tennessee Department of to conduct HIV/AIDS Pre/Post Testing and Counseling and certified by the American Red Cross as an HIV/AIDS Instructor. LaRonia is a member of the American Public Health Association and Nursing Association. Now LaRonia is a Post-Trauma/Detention nurse working at Regional One Medical Center.

Staff

Ayeisha C Cole- Program Director

Aamiyah Dickerson- TWISTA Outreach Assistant

TaMesha Pruitt: TWISTA Supervisor

Michael Walker-Boome: Youth Ambassador Assistant Director

PEAS Board of Directors

Brooke Askew, BS, MHSA---Sec.

Martha Ballard, DNP---Co-Chair

Nikia Grayson, RN, MSN, MA, DNP---Chair

 

Henry Jay Johnson, BS---Treasurer

PEAS Inc. offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs that target persons who experience health disparities, such as men who have sex with men, African American women of childbearing age, individuals of transgender experience, and other persons impacted by various chronic illnesses. PEAS Inc. utilizes programming that is designed to affect behavior changes specifically in communities of color of any age, gender, and who have experienced any form of trauma or who may participate in high risk behavior or who represent the affected HIV community

Information Regarding Each Program You Offer

Partnership to End AIDS Status, Inc. (PEAS), officially organized and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit organization. PEAS is a non-profit charitable organization established in 2009 to maximize the effectiveness of service resources to ensure the physical, mental and social equality for all persons residing in the Memphis Transitional Grant Area by providing residents with preventive tools to make healthier decisions. PEAS Inc. specializes in outreach.

 Core Values

  • Provide equality of service resources for all clients
  • Operate a client-centered organization

  • Provide a safe haven for all clients/ non-judgmental
  • Confidentiality of all clients

PEAS Inc. offers a variety of interdisciplinary programs that target persons who experience health disparities, such as men who have sex with men, African American women of childbearing age, individuals of transgender experience, and other persons impacted by various chronic illnesses. PEAS Inc. utilizes programming that is designed to affect behavior changes specifically in communities of color of any age, gender, and who have experienced any form of trauma or who may participate in high risk behavior or who represent the affected HIV community.

The mission of Partnership to End AIDS Status (PEAS Inc.), a nonprofit public charitable organization, is to maximize the effectiveness of service resources to ensure physical, mental, and social equality for all persons residing in the Memphis Transitional Grant Area (TGA) by providing residents with preventative tools to make healthier decisions. Memphis TGA’s counties include Fayette, Shelby and/or Tipton counties in Tennessee or DeSoto, Tate, Tunica, and/or Marshall Counties in Mississippi and/or Crittenden County in Arkansas.

PEAS Inc.’s core values and principles of operation include but are not limited to providing equal access to services and resources to all clients, operating a client-centered organization, providing a safe haven for all clients, employing staff who commit to remaining non-judgmental and professional, and assuring the confidentiality of all clients.

PEAS Inc has an interdisciplinary, trained certified staff. The staff proposes to the following HIV/AIDS Prevention interventions:

  • D-UP! Targeting Men Who Have Sex with Men 
  • SISTA Targeting African American Women of Childbearing Age
  • TWISTA Targeting Transgender Males-to-Female Community Members
  • The Orixa Dance Project Targeting Communities of Color of any age, gender, and who have experienced any form of trauma, chronic illness, or who represent the affected HIV community.

Programs

Project SISTA

The SISTA (Sisters Informing Sisters about Topics on AIDS) recognized by CDC as an intervention that is effective in reducing the HIV risk of African American women. The goal of SISTA is to reduce sexual risk behavior among heterosexually active women of color. SISTA consists of a five-session curriculum. Session topics include Ethnic/Gender Pride, HIV/AIDS Education, Assertiveness Skills Training, Behavioral Self-Management, and Coping Skills. The SISTA intervention will be conducted by Ms Ursula Nicole Martin, MALS and Mrs. LaRonia Dhasha Hurd-Sawyer B.S., MPH. Mrs. Hurd-Sawyer and Ms. Martin, co-facilitators, are fully certified to conduct this intervention.

Project TWISTA

The TWISTA (Transgender Women being Informed by Sisters about Topics on AIDS) Project is recognized by CDC as an intervention that is effective in reducing the HIV risk of African American women. TWISTA is the modification of the SISTA intervention framed for Transgender Male-to-Female individuals. The goal of TWISTA is to reduce sexual risk behavior among heterosexually active women of color. TWISTA consists of a five-session curriculum. Session topics include Ethnic/Gender Pride, HIV/AIDS Education, Assertiveness Skills Training, Behavioral Self-Management, and Coping Skills. The TWISTA intervention will be conducted by Mrs. LaRonia Hurd-Sawyer who is fully certified to conduct this intervention. TaMesha Prewitt and Amiyah Dickerson will also assist as peers. 

Project JoAnn

This project is named after a Pastor in Jackson, MS whom died of a massive heart attack in 2008. This program will target participants with heart disease and prevention of pre-heart problems by implementing healthy eating and exercise. Danielle Edwards, a certified personal trainer will implement this program.

Project SOLONGE

This project is named after PEAS Inc. Executive Director whom first-born (So’longe M. Sawyer) died in 2008 due to a pre-term birth. This program focuses on the infant mortality initiative, educating mothers on infant mortality.

Orixa Dance Project

The Orixa Dance Project is an original intervention using modern dance art to assist individuals experiencing various types of trauma such as HIV/AIDS with alternative coping methods etc. The intervention was created by and will conducted by Mrs. Orisha Aliye Bowers MEd., MA. The Orixa project in the scope of the proposed project will serve as a catalyst to promote communication between mothers and their daughters about sex and other applicable topics.