Champion of local AIDS and HIV care dies
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For the second time in less than a week, Rochester HAS lost a dedicated champion of AIDS and HIV care. Arlene Helget died last Monday at the age of 82. Helget worked closely with the local AIDS Task Force during the early years of the disease.
For 39-years, Helget was known as Sister Arlene. As a Sister of St. Joseph, she taught science at both St. Jerome’s School and Nazareth Academy, but it’s her work with the sick and dying that’s being remembered.
Sister Arlene was a dedicated volunteer with AIDS Rochester and Community Health Network — an HIV Clinic that later became Trillium Health. Co-Founder Dr. William Valenti tells me Sister Arlene was full of compassion and devoted her time and efforts to help those living with their AIDS or HIV diagnosis.
Sister Arlene also worked alongside Sue Cowell, another person who played a major role in the formation of the Men of Color Health Awareness Project, or MOCHA Center. Cowell died last week.
Valenti called sister Arlene an angel, and says her passing will be deeply felt in the community.
“We’re thankful for having her this long and for the contribution that she made because this is somebody who made a difference. That she really did indeed make a difference for patients and for the people who were doing the work. So, I think back to those days, and I think of the angel in our midst,” said Valenti.
Sister Arlene left religious life after 39-years, but continued her own ministry. The Sisters of St. Joseph will hold a Remembrance Service in her honor this Friday at 3 p.m. at the Motherhouse on French Road.