Inspiring the Class of 2011 to Eliminate Pediatric AIDS
June 13, 2011
It’s not every day that you have an opportunity to inspire a group of talented young graduates to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Last week, Dr. Susan Strasser did just that as she stood before the graduating class at her alma mater, Yale University’s School of Nursing,
to deliver the 2011 commencement address “Nursing at the Front Lines of the AIDS Pandemic.
Dr. Susan Strasser, the Foundation's Country Director for
Zambia delivers the commencement speech to the 2011
class at the Yale University School of Nursing.
(Photo: Yale University)
As Country Director of the Foundation’s programs in Zambia
, Susan shared her experiences working directly with children and families living with HIV/AIDS, and the impact it had on her as a nurse.
Susan began nursing in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, when the country was first grappling with the AIDS pandemic. Through her work, she saw countless patients enter the hospital suffering from the effects of HIV, with many of them never leaving.
While much progress has been made since then, sub-Saharan Africa still remains the hardest hit by AIDS, and children and women are particularly affected. More than 1,000 children are infected with HIV each day because their mothers don’t have access to medicines to stop transmission of the virus during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding.
However, as Susan described to the recent graduates, there is still hope.
Dr. Susan Strasser with United States Global AIDS
Coordinator Eric Goosby in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo: EGPAF)
“Antiretrovirals or anti-HIV drugs have been scaled up in many countries largely due to the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and people are living now and children are being born HIV-free.”
Today, pediatric AIDS has been virtually eliminated in the United States. We have the science and the medicines to do this in Africa and across the globe.
With increased political and financial commitments – and the dedication of governments, organizations, communities, and individuals – we can end new HIV infections in children and keep mothers healthy.
We’re proud that Susan – who was recently inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Nursing (AAN)
– was also honored by her alma mater.
We hope her words inspire a new generation of nurses and health care workers to help finish the job of ending pediatric AIDS.
Watch this interview with Susan explaining how the Foundation is working to achieve this in Zambia.
Zambia from EGPAF on Vimeo.
Jen Pollakusky is a Senior Public Policy and Advocacy Officer for Africa, based in Washington, D.C.