Amanda Marie Cordero is looking forward to living her life how she always dreamed. (Michelle Blanks/

A new El Paso support group forms to help patients suffering from Vasculitis

EL PASO – The bulky machine beside the young woman beeps in cadence with her heartbeat as a large IV bag pumps fluids into her body via the needle in her vein on her upper hand. The nurse comes into the room to check her vitals and remind the family of visiting hours. “You know I can’t even count the number of times I have been in and out of the hospital anymore,” said Amanda Marie Cordero, a 23 year old woman suffering from a “flair up” of Vasculitis, an auto immune disorder. According to the non-profit Vasculitis Foundation, the illness is a “condition that involves inflammation in the blood vessels.” It is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system begins to attack its own blood vessels. The exact causes of Vasculitis are unknown but can be attributed to numerous causes such as infection, medication or can be brought on by another condition or disease.

From left, candidates Dean Martinez, Steve Ortega and Jaime O. Perez at a recent mayoral forum hosted by the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. (Michelle Blanks/

Eight aspirants vie for one job – Mayor of El Paso

EL PASO – Eight men who aspire to run this city sit, slowly drinking water from Styrofoam cups in front of an audience some 120 persons, in anticipation of the questions they have to answer to prove they are worthy of the title of mayor. The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce held a mayoral forum recently where the candidates in the May 11 election attempted to prove they each were the best man for the job. Present in the packed hall were: educator Jorge Artalejo, business owner Robert Cormell, mortgage broker Gus Haddad, businessman Oscar Leeser, education management specialist Hector Lopez, U.S. Department of Defense retiree Dean Martinez, city representative Steve Ortega, and educator Jaime Perez. “There is a confidence in the community, optimism about El Paso that I have not seen since living here. If you support my candidacy you support the continued improvement of this community in a positive and ambitious direction,” said Ortega in an opening statement allotted to each candidate in reference to why they would be an ideal mayor for El Paso.

An increase of reported HIV infections among Fort Bliss soldiers might not be due only to men having sex with men as stated officially. (Alejandra Matos/

Sources clam up when it comes to reporting on HIV cases among Fort Bliss soldiers

EL PASO – Two young men, sporting fresh crew cuts, poke dollar bills into the underwear of a tall, lean, young woman.  She lightly kisses her patrons on the cheeks and nods in gratitude as she returns to the center of the stage of the strip club, grabs the pole, and hoists herself up to the rhythm of the music booming in the background. After the two young men sit down and begin to drink their beers, I approach the young woman on stage.  She slides down the pole gracefully while staying in sync with the beats to her routine.  She approaches me at the front of the stage and never breaks eye contact. I had no idea how to approach her to ask the question that had been running through my mind since first catching wind of the information that had been given to me…

Then the words just flew out of my mouth. “Do you see a lot of military personal during your shifts?” I asked. “Oh, we get lots of military guys in here, especially over the holidays.

Members of the M Factor distribute condoms at Cincinnati district. (Michelle Blanks/

Group fights stigma and discrimination to promote HIV education and prevention

EL PASO – Five young adults wearing Mardi Gras masks and beads handed out baggies containing condoms and lubrication to persons in a crowd celebrating to the heavy syncopated beat of dance and electronica music on an icy-cold downtown street. Members of The M Factor a local program, part of the national MPowerment Organization, went from bar to bar on Stanton Street where a large number of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) venues are located. The baggies they passed out held two packages of lubrication, six to eight condoms, and one business card. Their goal is to teach HIV prevention and education and Mardi Gras was an opportunity to reach out to the LGBT community. “For the HIV testing program, we provide free rapid HIV testing, blood testing, free syphilis testing to the public, and free anonymous or confidential counseling services for them,” said Irene Ovalle, a public health supervisor in the Department of Public Health for the city of El Paso who oversees The M Factor and the HIV testing outreach programs.

“This program creates a social setting and gets men out of bars, sex clubs and risky situations and into more social settings where they can meet other men and talk and have conversations,” said David Peralta-Torres, The M Factor’s HIV Education and Prevention Specialist.

One in every six girls in the United States and one in four boys is molested during childhood, according to the National Institution of Justice Report.

Fear of deportation stops women from reporting domestic violence

EL PASO – The woman standing in front of the audience could barely speak, signs of abuse still resonated in her voice, as she began her words became loud and clear. “She was strangled so badly by an abusive spouse that it literally affected her ability to speak, but when she did it was obvious that she definitely had something to say,” said Shannon Osborne, coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), during an interview. Osborne witnessed the woman tell an audience of men and women about her experience with domestic violence between her and her partner at a convention on resources available to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Osborne works at the WRC on campus helping provide victims of domestic violence and sexual assault assistance through various resources available on and off campus. “I encourage someone who has survived domestic abuse or sexual assault to talk to someone, if its 0-72 hours after the incident occurred I recommend that they contact STARS, the local rape crisis center. If it’s after that mark of time I recommend that they talk to someone at the Center Against Family Violence,” Osborne said.