Home Blog Educating and Empowering Communities on HIV/AIDS
Educating and Empowering Communities on HIV/AIDS
Friday, 23 August 2013 13:52

My name is Ese Oghenejobo, and I am the NY Summer 2013 AACAA Fellow. Currently, I am a doctoral student at the University at Albany (SUNY) in the department of public health with a concentration in Health Policy and Management. It was an honor and privilege to work with the African American Coalition Against AIDS (AACAA) to actively address HIV and simultaneously empower communities to be proactive in addressing a very important public health concern, which is HIV/AIDS. Before my fellowship, I was both nervous and excited. From previous experiences, I have seen first hand the misconceptions, fears, stigma, and overall curiosity about HIV. I have found that people have many questions and are scared to ask them for different reasons. I also have seen different fears from different population groups such as adolescents and older adults. I set out to address some of the issues in different ways in order to reach various communities of color and also to really see what work has to be done in order for all community-based organizations interested in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It is one thing to work behind the scenes to address policy issues related to HIV, but it is also another experience to actively be in the field to really see what are the problems when trying to promote awareness around this issue. My targeted proposal goals were threefold: to conduct informative and interactive HIV/AIDS education sessions in communities, to distribute condoms and promote safe sex practices, and to create partnerships who are empowered to aid in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  There is a great need to address HIV/AIDS in New York. I, along with volunteers, used the grassroots approach by the AACAA to actively get involved in educating and empowering communities on HIV/AIDS.  I had no idea what I would face in the field, but in the field, I learned about the great knowledge that is already in our communities and the many questions that still remain. I spoke with numerous organizations who also share the same common goals as the AACAA which is to slow the rising rates of HIV infection and ultimately eliminate them. I also saw the many myths surrounding HIV and various forms of condoms. I laughed a lot with the people and have many great stories to share from our various events. It has been an insightful, rewarding, and challenging experience. I will share some of these stories with you along the way. Overall, this experience emphasized the importance of the work that this organization does. It also let me know that I have chosen the right career, which is public health. I am committed to serving my community and society at large in more ways than ever.