PEAS Inc. was founded November 1, 2009, by LaRonia Hurd-Sawyer, RN, MSN-CNL, MPH, Executive Director/Founder with a group of female health professionals/ Public Health advocates dedicated to the eradication of HIV/AIDS and other health disparities from the communities in the Mid-South. The Board of Directors of PEAS Inc. has a combined 30+ years of multidisciplinary experience. PEAS Inc's staff has assisted at the community level in efforts to assess service gaps, community needs, coordinate and plan the allocation of resources for persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and other STIs disparities that are placed within minority communities.
Simultaneously, the staff is equally involved in the assessment of needs and service delivery of diffused effective behavioral interventions and services for those at risk of HIV/HCV 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 comprehensive services such as HIV/HCV education, needle exchange, and more to the most impacted communities during “vulnerable hours” meaning (after business hours and weekends).
Most of PEAS Inc.’s recipients of services are essentially 90% African American/Hispanic, English and Spanish speaking; predominantly from the Memphis and Shelby county area. Approximately 80% of the recipients of services provided by PEAS Inc. include Ciswomen/Cismen, Transwomen/Transmen, and those of LGBTQIA experience, due to large numbers of or a high percentage of single-parent or women-headed homes in the Memphis TGA area.
The southern States are known for numerous characteristics that place with 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 the 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 about 16% of the population, they comprised about 54% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Tennessee.
The City of Memphis, known as the urban hub of the region, is located on the Mississippi River in Shelby County, TN. African American/Minority individuals make up more than half of the population. It is characterized by a high rate of poverty, which is found primarily within the African American/Hispanic 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.