OHSU Nurse Practitioner Helps Fight AIDS in Africa

04/27/00    Portland, Ore.

Nurse Practitioner Organizes Benefit in Portland, Volunteers in a Zimbabwean AIDS Clinic and Attends International AIDS Conference in South Africa

The AIDS virus infects one-half of the people in St. Werburg, a rural village in one of Portland's sister cities, Mutare, Zimbabwe. An OHSU nurse practitioner, Maria Kosmetatos, F.N.P., is doing something about it. Kosmetatos takes OHSU's community outreach mission personally and carries it beyond borders to Mutare. Mutare is one of Portland's nine sister cities. Kosmetatos and a committee of dedicated volunteers have organized the May 1 Africa AIDS Response Benefit, the proceeds of which will go to Mutare and the grassroots Zimbabwe AIDS Network that is responding to the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

This summer Kosmetatos will spend six weeks volunteering in St.Werburg, providing care to AIDS patients. "We can't really be healthy if others are suffering," Kosmetatos said, "Portland is not isolated. We're an interdependent world community. If we don't realize that, Portland can never really be a healthy community. By helping AIDS patients all over the world, we help our own community, too." Before returning home, Kosmetatos will attend the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Kosmetatos aims to raise $20,000 in donations for the people of Mutare by staging a night of African dance and music. The African AIDS Response benefit on May 1, open to all ages, begins at 7 p.m. at the Crystal Ballroom with a performance by the NW Afrikan American Ballet. The audience then will be able to show off their own dance moves to the rhythms of Balafon Marimba Ensemble followed by Obo Addy & Kukrudu. Tickets are available at all McMenamin's locations.

This event also benefits the Portland community by providing a forum to advance community outreach. There will be information tables at the benefit with literature describing other efforts to support our Mutare. By bringing together a variety of communities--the health care community, the music community, the community of people and families affected by HIV, and those just wanting to dance to great music Kosmetatos hopes to generate a greater awareness of the disease. She would like to foster a sense of gratitude for the access to treatment we have in this country and do something to support those who don't have access to treatment. "I've had the privilege, for the last 15 years, to be able to prescribe medication and care for patients with AIDS," Kosmetatos said, "In Africa they have very little medication -- this need continues to call me to action."