For veterinarians and veterinary students, being pro-active in learning about HIV and AIDS is of utmost importance, especially in an era of One Health, One Medicine. In his excellent must-read article, "HIV/AIDS Education: Still an Important Issue for Veterinarians," Dr. Radford G. Davis, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, summarizes it best:
Veterinarians need to better understand HIV/AIDS for many reasons: to dispel unfounded beliefs; to address discrimination and liability issues; to educate and protect the health of clients and employees; to help those with HIV/AIDS keep their pets; and to meet legal and professional requirements. To do this, veterinarians must become proactive in learning about HIV/AIDS and in reaching out to pet owners living with HIV/AIDS, as well as the physicians of those individuals.
At Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine, the Student LGVMA chapter, the first LGBT group to ever be established at Tuskegee, was able to host a very successful World AIDS Day Event for the second year in a row. The LGVMA recently awarded their group with the 2011 LGVMA Leadership Award for outstanding leadership and community activism within the veterinary profession.
|TUSVM-LGVMA World AIDS Day Poster, Courtesy of Audrey Weaver|
I was able to briefly interview Audrey Weaver, a third-year student and Secretary of Broad Spectrum, about their event today.
Sonia Fang: So this was your second year hosting a World AIDS Day event, correct?
Audrey Weaver: Yes ma'am
SF: How did it go? Did you bring in speakers this year?
AW: It was great. We had an awesome turn out with our HIV testing. We did have a speaker from the Alabama State Department of Public Health. There was food. There were cupcakes!! We raised some money that will be given to AIDS Alabama in Birmingham.
SF: Cool! Who was the speaker and what was their topic of discussion?
AW: The speaker was Lani Thompson and she talked about HIV statistics and practicing healthy sexual relationships. She's the HIV coordinator for the Department of Public Health.
SF: Awesome! So do you have any tips for other school groups trying to pull off a World AIDS Day event?
AW: Well...hmm...persistence is key. This year was a little frustrating because there were some road blocks, but I think even if there is only one person dedicated to the project, the rest of the school will follow. Incentives seem to work well (food,raffles,etc). I have to admit that it was frustrating when there wasn't a lot of people at the lunch and learn that we had. But I'm glad that even the small crowd that came received the message and enjoyed the speaker. I still see it as a success. We had more people this year get tested which is awesome to me.
SF: That's great! WesternU was able to secure free HIV testing two years back, but we've run into problems in recent years. Do you have any tips on approaching people to donate time/resources to HIV testing or did your club fund it?
AW: We contacted Unity Wellness Center which is a part of East Alabama Medical Center in Auburn, AL. They do a lot of HIV awareness programs and work closely with HIV/AIDS patients. They are a nonprofit organization that works closely with the community. This is our second year working with them and it's always at no charge. There are lots of organizations that have trained professionals that will come to a location and administer free testing. Usually local health departments will help. I don't think that can do large numbers but it probably depends on the area.
SF: Great! Do you have anything else you want to say?
AW: I love cupcakes!!
SF: Hahah, well congratulations on another successful event! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on such short notice
AW: Yay!! Thanks Dr. Fang*!
SF: Thank you for all you do, Dr. Weaver!
|Raising awareness at Tuskegee.|
Did your school commemorate World AIDS Day? Send us your stories and photos!
Here are some from WesternU from last year: Lambda and Friends encouraged everyone to wear red, distributed free red ribbons, provided pizza, and took a fancy photo at lunch.
|Free pizza. Always an incentive.|
|Lambda and Friends, World AIDS Day 2010|
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*Note: We are not actually doctors. Yet.