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Confronting Stigma on World AIDS Day in Washington, DC

While the roles of medicine and traditional HIV testing/outreach have been paramount to our success in fighting HIV/AIDS; stigma remains a central obstacle. This World AIDS Day, the AIDS United AmeriCorps team in Washington, DC, addressed stigma in fresh, innovative ways. We used multiple channels to engage our community and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. 

At the Children’s National Health System, where I’ve been placed for my AmeriCorps service, World AIDS Day was a full-day affair. For hospital staff, we featured HIV-related healthcare rounds and an ethics panel focused on HIV disclosure. For our children, we created kid-friendly programing, such as HIV-related crafts and had spoken word performances in the hospital lobby. The diversity of programming encouraged people to think about HIV from new perspectives.   After coloring in their “zeros,” children decorated them with factors important to reaching a rate of zero new HIV infections. This piece mentions “research,” “no fear,” “more hugs,” and “zero stigma.”

When they day concluded at Children’s, I joined my AmeriCorps team at Whitman-Walker Health for their candlelight vigil. We honored both those who have past, and those who continue to fight HIV/AIDS. The ceremony provided time for a moment of remembrance, and for many, a source of rejuvenation.

As our AmeriCorps team continues its year of service, we will all remember the importance of finding varied ways to engage our communities and of serving with both vigor and enthusiasm. Then, as the AmeriCorps pledge spells out, we “will get things done.”

Posted By: Jeremy Barr, AIDS United AmeriCorps Team DC - Tuesday, January 06, 2015

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