UDC-DCSL helped organize a documentary film screening of "The Other City” and panel discussion about HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia at the Dorothy I. Height/Benning Neighborhood Library, as part of World AIDS Day.
Jason West 3L introduced Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director of HAHSTA (HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration) in the District of Columbia Department of Health, who encouraged everyone in the audience to get tested for HIV/AIDS and become more knowledgeable about contraception. Washington, D.C. has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the nation, and the The Other City showed how HIV/AIDS has impacted the poor, African-American, and Latino populations in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Jamila Perritt, Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.
Eric Turner, Consultant/Addiction Counselor at Empowerment DC
Beverly Becton, HIV/AIDS activist
Toni Young, Executive Director of Community Education Group
HIV/AIDS activist Beverly Becton described life in Joseph’s House, a hospice for people living with HIV/AIDS. She also mentioned that many houses for HIV/AIDS patients have been shutting down due to lack of funding, and that a lot of outreach needs to be done in senior centers.
Councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) described how she helped to implement a program to have HIV/AIDS tests administered at the Department of Motor Vehicles. She also mentioned that one barrier towards people getting tested more often is a lack of convenient places to get tested. She said that even though elementary schools have had their budget cut, she expressed support for having a full-time nurse in every school to help children with their medical needs.
Toni Young of Community Education Group explained the effectiveness of needle exchange programs and how the District of Columbia’s move toward political autonomy would help fight HIV/AIDS since D.C. has been a leader in implementing health care reform. She also described how difficult it is in D.C. to find affordable housing for HIV/AIDS patients, and how important it is to remove the stigma around homophobia that may cause some African-American men to not get tested.
Jamila Perritt discussed the impact of HIV/AIDS on the African-American female population, how substance abuse impacts the ability to make good decisions like using condoms and getting treatment for HIV/AIDS, and the importance of getting tested. She also said that people can live with HIV/AIDS, but they have to receive treatment early and regularly.
Eric Turner thanked UDC-DCSL for offering an HIV/AIDS clinic to help D.C. residents like him who have lived with HIV/AIDS for many years. He also discussed removing the stigma around certain words like "intravenous” and the importance of educating the African-American community about HIV/AIDS. In closing Eric Turner said the greatest support network we have is each other.
Courtney Dixon 3L gave a brief conclusion, and then Councilmembers Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) gathered for some photos at the Dorothy I. Height/Benning Neighborhood Library. For more photos of the event click here.