Students Visit EGPAF, Get Crash Course in Fight to Eliminate Pediatric AIDS
Students in an epidemiology class at the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va. visited EGPAF this past Tuesday to learn more about EGPAF’s work and impact in the battle against pediatric HIV and AIDS.
Juniors and seniors from Foxcroft, along with their teacher Courtney Schultz, listened to presentations by EGPAF staff and EGPAF Ambassadors on topics ranging from the latest HIV research to the many challenges faced by children, adolescents, and adults living with HIV.
Dr. Laura Guay, vice president of research at EGPAF, described the history of HIV to the students, taking them from the breakout of the epidemic and early responses to the current work being done today to combat the virus. She described working in Uganda in the 1980s, when researchers were just beginning to determine how the “SLIM” disease (as HIV was called then) was spread. Guay also discussed how the dream of eliminating pediatric AIDS is a potential reality, as long as organizations and governments around the world continue to support the needs of women, children, and families. During her talk, Susan Duberstein, senior country officer for EGPAF’s Kenya program, discussed how her interest in human rights and helping others led her to the public health field.
Jamie Gentille, one of EGPAF’s Ambassadors, described growing up with HIV after being infected through a blood transfusion during surgery. She talked about experiencing stigma because of her status, but also receiving love and support from friends and family. One particular experience showed her courage. At the end of her senior year of high school, Jamie took a big risk and told her entire school about her HIV status. “When I took that leap and started telling people, I was met with support and compassion,” Jamie said.
Sydney Van Horn, EGPAF’s development coordinator, told the students about how to get involved in the fight to end pediatric AIDS by joining and hosting Dance Marathons, fundraisers where students dance for hours to raise money for EGPAF’s lifesaving
programs around the world.
The students had a lively discussion with all the presenters, and left with valuable information about the devastating legacy of the pandemic and how EGPAF is leading the fight to create a generation free of HIV.
Michelle Betton is Associate Communications Officer for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.