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Five blocks south of the Johns Hopkins Hospital, in a sea of abandoned rowhomes, there stands a relatively new four-story brick building. In the world of AIDS research, it’s well known as the home of ALIVE, the longest running study of HIV and injection drug use. But to one woman who works there, the 25-year-old project means so much more. She might even say, redemption.
I recently scoured the streets of Baltimore with Queen, a former heroin user who is now a “tracker” for the community-based ALIVE study. ALIVE, which stands for AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience, is run by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One reason for ALIVE’s longevity and success? The short, streetwise, 59-year-old dreadlocked dynamo named Bertha Queen, known to pretty much everyone as “Bert.”
The original story and pictures (by Hanna Jamal) can be found on the Baltimore Brew's website: http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2012/07/10/brew-audio-the-queen-of-east-baltimore/.