The Beautiful Gate is an HIV/AIDS counseling center located in the heart of one of the State’s poorest areas. The fastest growing segment of the population contracting HIV/AIDS is African-American women. Given that the family unit in many poor communities has been blown apart over the last 50 years, and that women make up the heads of household for about 85% of the families in Wilmington, adding the burden of an HIV/AIDS infection is can remove the last vestige of a “normal” family. Renee Beamon has stepped into this breach and does the Lord’s work. Many, many others will talk the walk — I have no use for them. She walks the walk. Delaware is blessed to have her.
Please see the News Journal article about her — it can be found here.
From the article:
The buzzer can ring a dozen or more times per day — and more often on “Monday madness.” Each time, it represents a victory and a defeat for Beaman.
Her message about getting tested is getting out. But in her eyes, far too many of those tests end up being positive for HIV, meaning she has more work to do to promote prevention. For starters, the clients rushing in on Mondays for testing don’t realize HIV is undetectable in the first three months of infection. They won’t know until then what their risky weekend behavior cost them.
Even after years of public education efforts, people still fail to understand only proper behavior, not testing, will stop HIV infection, she said.
When her husband transferred to Wilmington Bethel AME, Beaman figured she would return to pediatric nursing. But after a stint as a school nurse, Beaman discovered a shocking fact: Delaware’s HIV rate is twice the national average [emphasis added by editor], according to the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
With a $45,000 grant from the state Office of Minority Health, Beaman founded Beautiful Gate in the basement of the church offices, a space they partly share with the church choir. The center now tests about 1,500 people each year. The process takes 45 minutes and requires a tiny prick on the end of a finger.
Faith motivates Beautiful Gate’s mission, but it does not dominate their approach to treating clients. “We don’t beat anyone over the head with a Bible,” Beaman said. “We don’t read them Scripture. We let our actions show our faith.”
Beaman and her staff teach abstinence and faithfulness to your partner as the only 100 percent way to stay HIV-free. But if the clients don’t plan to abide by that, they’re told, they should at least use condoms and clean needles.
One in 254 Delawareans has HIV. In fact, one in 636 white state residents is infected while one in 83 black Delawareans is. Beaman went on to explain she’s met people diagnosed with HIV in their 70s, 80s and, in one case, 90s.