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When I participated in my first IMPACT trip last spring, I realized that I had found the perfect kind of organization, one that focuses on not only the service, and the importance it should have in our daily lives, but also the root reasons that service is needed. Rather than leave understandings at a surface level, IMPACT jumped right into the deeper causes and effects, choosing to start conversations about how to find permanent solutions, instead of the temporary fixes our service was bringing. As a group, we had several conversations about each place we volunteered at, and we talked about both the positives and the negatives that we saw in each one, recognizing them for the good they were doing in their community, but also noting the ways in which they could improve. These conversations encouraged me to pursue greater involvement with IMPACT, an organization that had already taught me so much, but still has so much more to offer.
Why HIV/AIDS Awareness & Advocacy?
The social issue of HIV/AIDS is not a topic with which I have had a lot of personal experience with. I know what it is from a vaguely academic perspective, but in the real world, I wanted to gain a greater understanding of what can be done to combat this issue. Leading an IMPACT trip about this topic will lead me to have a deeper personal connection to the solutions we can find and the ways in which we can promote further understandings for those around us as well. HIV/AIDS is still such a relevant issue in today’s public health world, and I want to have firsthand experience of how we are working to solve it.
Fun Fact: My real name is Christina, and I am named after my mom’s first friend when she moved to the US.
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My freshman year at UGA, my sister was a Site Leader for the Environmental Awareness trip that went to Fort Myers, Florida. She introduced me to IMPACT, and I thought if it’s interesting enough to peak her interest, it is probably a good organization. Coming into my third year with IMPACT, I would say it’s been one of my best decisions in college.
My first IMPACT trip focused on Disability/Ability Advocacy and Awareness, and we worked with the community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Last year was my first year as a Site Leader, and, lo and behold, I ran a trip focused on Environmental Justice that traveled to Fort Myers, Florida (the same trip my sister made the year before)!
Why HIV/AIDS Advocacy & Awareness?
HIV/AIDS has been heavily stigmatized for several decades. With the rise of safe sex education and improved sexual health education, HIV/AIDS has seen a rise in advocacy, access to information and knowledge, and improved treatments in the US and many developed nations. However, the situation is still dire in many developing countries that lack access to care, education, and information.
Although HIV/AIDS is a public health issue, it has historically been a platform for racism and bigotry against the LGBT community, particularly gay men. Like many other social justice topics IMPACT trips focus on, this issue is intertwined with other problems of society.
Fun Fact: Tanta is a city in Egypt, is an adverb in Spanish, means “aunt” in Indonesian, and is only part of my middle name- long story.
STI: Sexually transmitted infection is an infection transmitted via sexual activity.
STD: Sexually transmitted disease is the condition when symptoms appear in those with STIs.
HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus that weakens person's immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease.
AIDS: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome caused by HIV and is a syndrome characterized by a compromised immune system. It is the last stage of HIV infection.
ART: Antiretroviral therapy is the medicine used to manage HIV.
Community Planning Groups: Local groups made up of local providers of services that are responsible for coordinating and developing comprehensive HIV prevention plans.
Facts & Stats
In Georgia, there are an estimated 49,643 people living with AIDS.
In 2015, an estimated 2,381 adults and adolescents were diagnosed with HIV in Georgia. Georgia ranked 5th highest among 50 states. In Athens, that number is between 251 and 280 (0.5% - 0.7%).