The City of Roses blossomed another honor with the recent recognition of Jacki Gethner, a pioneer massage therapist in the treatment of HIV/AIDS infected clients by Kaiser Permanente who presented her with the Kaiser Permanente HIV/AIDS Diversity Award at their 32nd Annual Diversity Conference in San Francisco in November 2009 Ms. Gethner is a renowned international and national health advocate/activist/educator based in Portland, Oregon where she provides massage therapy to a devoted clientele who appreciates her expertise and compassionate spirit felt through her healing touch. In addition, Ms. Gethner has worked in collaboration with a variety of health educators, partners and advocates including pharmaceuticals, faith-based organizations, civic and government agencies to help minimize the spread of AIDS among vulnerable communities.
In 1987, Ms. Gethner began her involvement in HIV/AIDS education and advocacy work after learning about a girl friend's diagnosis and discovering the limited resources and service available to persons diagnosed with the virus. Her first opportunity to work was as a student at the Rocky Mountain School of Massage where she refined her skills and knowledge of massage therapy. Later that same year, she would attend the "1st Annual Holistic and Western Medicine Conference: Aids, Medicine and Miracles" in Colorado where her epiphany would take place as a pioneer in the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients via massage therapy.
Ms. Gethner recognized the myths and challenges that limited HIV/AIDS patients from receiving massage therapy so she convinced conference organizers to let her present a workshop at the conference to educate practitioners and clinicians, as well as providing an on-site team to work on conference participants. Since the inception of her pioneering efforts, Ms. Gethner has utilized her "touch and energy" to treat numerous patients and consulted thousands concerning the positive side to treating positive HIV/AIDS patients.
As the second largest provider of HIV care in the United States (Kaiser Permanente and Group Health Cooperative collectively), Kaiser Permanente is committed to addressing health disparities in HIV/AIDS incidence and care in the United States. Initiated in 2006
To mark the 25th anniversary of the discovery of HIV, the Kaiser Permanente HIV/AIDS Diversity Awards are presented to external individuals and organizations that work to reduce and eliminate disparities in HIV incidence and care in KP regions and include a $10,000 grant. KP Regions are Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Northern and Southern California, Ohio, Northwest (Oregon and Washington) and the Mid-Atlantic States (Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.).
Past award recipients include the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center and Ron Chavez, Grupo Fremont VIH in 2008, Allen Temple AIDS Ministries and the Cascade AIDS Project in 2007, and Phil Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute and Debra Fraser-Howze of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS in 2006.
The Kaiser Permanente HIV/AIDS Diversity Awards Selection Committee looked at the following criteria in awarding the Kaiser Permanente HIV/AIDS Diversity Awards:
- Identified HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care practices that are replicable
- Implemented innovative and promising practices in HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care
- Demonstrated effective and impactful HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care strategies to curtail spiraling rates of HIV infection and AIDS
- Contributed to reducing and eliminating disparities in HIV/AIDS incidence and care
- Significant community involvement and collaboration efforts in HIV/AIDS prevention and/or care
National Diversity, Kaiser Permanente presented the 2009 Kaiser Permanente HIV/AIDS Diversity Awards to two organizations, the Antioch Development Corporation and the Central City Lutheran Mission and one individual, Jacki Gethner, during the 32nd Annual National Diversity Conference in San Francisco, California.