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v34_nell_davis2012-med-small(Via The Body) – Nell Davis never expected to be in the national spotlight at 64 years old.

The California mother and grandmother never expected to be diagnosed with HIV, either. But she has become one of the new faces of HIV by being featured in the Frontline documentary Endgame on PBS and participating in several panels at AIDS 2012, the International AIDS Conference.

Davis tells her story with quiet dignity, and in the process she has become a voice for and a minister to other women “of a certain age” who find themselves navigating the waters of HIV.

The unlikely activist, who relies heavily on her faith to get her through, says that it became important to her to bring HIV education and awareness to her own church.

“It wasn’t easy. But I wouldn’t give up,” she says. “The pastor at the time was reluctant to take this on. But after we got a new minister, I went to him and asked about setting up an HIV/AIDS ministry.” His response, she says, was conditional. “He said that we could do it if I promised to lead it. And I did,” she added with the smile of a woman committed to making good things happen.

Across the country, Black women make up 60 percent of all new infections among women, most acquiring the disease through heterosexual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while HIV education and awareness campaigns focus on Black women ages 18 to 34, women in their 40s and beyond are not always getting the message of safer sex and testing.

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FALLBROOK CHURCH - CHRISTMAS IN JULY

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