Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties honored Dr. Adina Nack for her contributions to the community at its ninth annual Ventura County Celebration on Sept. 14 at the Westlake Village Inn.

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Adina Nack

Nack was awarded Ventura County Volunteer of the Year honors for her activism in the community on behalf of women’s issues as well as her work with the HIV community.

“Planned Parenthood is pleased to celebrate Adina’s outstanding contributions,” said Cheryl Rollings, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood SBVSLO. “Her commitment and hard work make it easier for us to provide much needed services to women and men in Ventura County.”

Nack is the author of “Damaged Goods?: Women Living With Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” a book focusing on how human papillomavirus and genital herpes infections change women’s lives. Nack became a sexually transmitted infection researcher as a result of her own experiences with HPV.

“My experiences told me that the larger problem was not only ignorance about diseases like HPV and herpes,” Nack said, “but there was also a particular type of shame and stigma that negatively impacted infected women much more so than infected men.”

Her diagnosis changed the course of her life. She organized women’s rights and health events for the University of California, Irvine’s Women’s Resource Center as an undergraduate. Then, Nack worked as a site manager for Girls Inc. of Orange County, where she first learned how to educate others about sexual health issues. While working on her doctorate in sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, she received training from the Boulder County AIDS Project and Planned Parenthood to serve first as a volunteer sexual health peer educator, and later as the director of sexual health education for the university’s student health center.

In 1999, MTV invited Nack to participate in a documentary that focused on young adults who had contracted sexually transmitted infections. MTV also featured Nack as a proponent for and provider of comprehensive sex education in a 2002 documentary titled Fight for Your Rights: Sex in the Classroom.

“I realized that it was important to give a voice to the millions of women and men who are shamed into silence by their sexually transmitted infections,” Nack said.

Evelina Ochoa was featured in the program honoring Nack. Ochoa is a former Planned Parenthood SBVSLO Student Achievement Award winner. She began volunteering for Planned Parenthood SBVSLO as a participant in its Amigo a Amigo program while in high school. She continued her volunteerism with Planned Parenthood in San Diego while at the University of San Diego.

Ochoa also remained very active with Planned Parenthood in Ventura during spring winter and summer breaks. Planned Parenthood SBVSLO recruited Ochoa as an educator after she graduated from USD.

“I work at Planned Parenthood for many reasons, but mostly because I believe that reproductive health care and comprehensive sex education are fundamental parts of basic health care, yet they are things that so many of my peers lack. I want to make a difference,” Ochoa said.

Sherry Madsen represents Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.