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Some good news from the epidemic we don't like to think about.

If ever there was a four-letter word that we hate to hear, AIDS is probably it. When "innocent bystanders" succumb to the disease--like Ryan White and others who contracted it from a transfusion of infected blood--it is refreshing to know that there is a positive side to the problem.

The National Partners, a consortium of 18 organizations (including the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control), recently honored 14 dedicated Americans with its first Pathfinders Awards. Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Thomas Foley, was among the awards' presenters. Foley praised the Pathfinders as "Americans making a difference in the age of AIDS....Their superior dedication and resolve, often in the face of great personal adversity, is an example to all of us."

The 14 were selected from more than 130 nominations. The finalists included teachers, health care professionals, union members, retirees, business leaders, and volunteers. Four are themselves infected with HIV. All have lost friends, family members, or loved ones to the AIDS epidemic.

"Each award winner has demonstrated an outstanding personal commitment to helping people with AIDS. Each has pioneered his or her own creative response to the epidemic, with far-reaching effects. Each has faced numerous obstacles and hardships. And each has received little or no public recognition for these efforts to date," said the spokesperson for the 18 sponsors.

Among the Pathfinders are:

Kathleen Gerus of Sterling Heights, Michigan, a hemophilic wife and mother with HIV infection "who has worked tirelessly to help all women affected by hemophilia and HIV/AIDS as they confront fear, loss and discrimination."

Judith Hargis of Yakima, Washington, a nurse "whose galvanizing energy and commitment have resulted in compassionate treatment for persons living with AIDS in a conservative, rural community."

Jorge and Mariana Serrano of Luquillo, Puerto Rico, "a couple whose courageous battle to establish a hospice for terminally ill AIDS patients in their community set a legal precedent establishing the rights of people with AIDS to [obtain] adequate housing."
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Title Annotation:National Partners Pathfinders Awards to people dedicated to helping AIDS patients
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Words:332
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