Stories: Katherine receives the help and care she needs for her HIV status and mental disabilities

This story comes courtesy of Kim Moss, Director of Grants and Fundraising, with Friends For Life. All names are changed to protect privacy.

Katherine,  a woman who lives with mental and developmental delays, was sexually assaulted by a relative and infected with HIV in 1994.

Scared and ignorant about the disease, Katherine’s relatives kicked her out of the house and no longer allowed her to live in their home. Local housing programs could not accept Katherine because of her severe mental disability and they were not trained to provide the level of services required to keep Katherine healthy despite her HIV positive status.

Katherine was eventually connected to housing through a Friends For Life facility, and soon she was able to live under a permanent housing program. The nonprofit is part of United Way’s network of partner agencies here in the Mid-South area.

“Katherine’s situation is unique,” said an agency counselor. “Due to her developmental disability, she requires 24-hour supervision – she needs someone to cook for her and to help with the activities of daily living.”

Katherine has thrived even though she has HIV. Through partnering with SRVS, another United Way agency that specializes in improving the quality of life for people with mental development issues, Katherine receives meals from a food pantry and attends meetings twice a month that help her in some areas related to her mental challenges.

“There is no doubt in my mind that without the help of these United Way partner agencies, Katherine’s life would have been very different,” said the counselor.

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