Working with the 6%: Michelle’s Summer at UTAC

Before joining the team at Until There’s A Cure, I’d already been involved in various HIV/AIDS organizations on my school’s campus. I participated in our 13th annual Dance Marathon sponsored by the Pediatric AIDS Coalition and was active in my school’s chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority which supports The Laurel Foundation as one of its philanthropies. Attending the school that identified the first case of AIDS and one that has fostered such a strong community of outreach and support makes it difficult to be passionate about this cause. Therefore, it came as a surprise to me that so few people in the US realize that HIV/AIDS is still a problem.

Upon arriving at Until There’s A Cure, I learned that only 6% of the US population believes that HIV/AIDS is an issue prevalent in our society. Clearly, that is not the case. While great strides have been made in HIV/AIDS treatment and research, we still have a ways to go before this disease is completely eradicated. This brings me to to the project on which I’ve been focusing at Until There’s A Cure…

My first day at the internship, I was presented with the task of researching HIV/AIDS within the US. I watched various documentaries including: Our America: “Black America’s Silent Epidemic,” The Other City, How to Survive a Plague, and deepsouth. Watching footage of the everyday struggles and personal testimonials of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS gave me better insight into the stigma surrounding the disease. My heightened awareness of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS helped me take my next project step — getting others to care and take action. Since then, I’ve been brainstorming a lot about the kinds of organizations to which I could reach out. As Lisa Ling emphasized in her documentary feature, Our America: “Black America’s Silent Epidemic,” the HIV rate is disproportionately high in black America and especially among African American women. In consideration of this fact, I explored a multitude of organizations and influential figures of color — multiracial fraternities, business groups, universities, and entrepreneurs. It is our hope that by forging relationships with such widely known and respected organizations and people, we can bring national attention to restart a conversation about HIV/AIDS and ultimately end the lack of understanding, shame and injustice surrounding this disease. Raising awareness is the first step toward overcoming this issue.

Interning at Until There’s A Cure has helped me gain valuable experience in the working world. More importantly, it has allowed me to more fully devote myself to this important cause. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside a great group of people whose shared dedication, commitment and passion to the HIV/AIDS movement will continue to inspire me and guide my efforts beyond my internship.

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Francessca — A Summer Experience with UTAC

This summer, I had the privilege of working with Until There’s a Cure. Twice a week I traveled to our Woodside office where I was given various tasks and projects as we attempt to bring awareness to the foundation and the cause we are fighting for. Interning with this non-profit provides me with the rewarding feeling of truly making a difference, giving me the motivation to continue working hard for the cause. I could have had a standard office job crunching numbers and supporting the world economy but how does that really help me make the world a better place? Here at UTAC I have the opportunity to help raise money for a cause that is helping lives around the world making me truly proud of the work we are doing at UTAC. All of us here at UTAC have been able to contribute as members of the organization, allowing us to make a difference, expand our skill sets and network. One of the best experiences I had during my internship was visiting our partners at the Immunity Project lab where we were given the opportunity to tour the lab that is creating a potential HIV/AIDS vaccination. If the future human trials are successful I can say that I held the vaccination in my hands! Overall, it has been a very rewarding experience and I am glad I had the opportunity to spend time this summer to work for the greater good and help bring awareness to the ever-present HIV/AIDS epidemic. Hopefully, with all the work we have done and the work done by all the excellent organizations we have partnered with, there will one day be a cure.

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Shannon’s Summer Experience at UTAC

As a business student, I knew I wanted to find a summer internship that would give me some important real life experiences. I also knew that I wanted to do something with a purpose. Until There’s A Cure gave me both of those things.

I was given great direction and plenty of options on my first day of my internship. Since then, I have been writing for the blog, reaching out to potential partners, and helping to develop the campus representative program. I quickly gained insight into what goes on behind the scenes at a non-profit organization, and have been learning skills that will be very helpful when finding future jobs.

Working at Until There’s A Cure has been a positive and overall great experience. I would highly recommend applying for an internship here to all undergraduate students. The staff and other interns make the environment very comfortable and encouraging. I didn’t know much about HIV/AIDS before starting my internship at UTAC, and I think that is common among other young people without any direct connection to the disease. However, now I know the basics, the effects it has on people living with the disease, as well as what is being done to stop this major issue. This knowledge adds perspective to life, and is more valuable than simply a summer job to pad a resume.

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The Beginning of Anushka’s Experience at UTAC

I entered this summer hoping to find something meaningful to do, and Until There’s A Cure has definitely delivered. When I first learned I would be the only high school-er, truthfully, I was afraid that I would be delegated to simple work, but I was completely wrong. In the past month, I have worked with some of our partners, done extensive research about specific topics relating to HIV/AIDS, fixed up partner websites, explored other partnerships, and helped around the office. I’m so grateful to have been given these responsibilities.

More than all the work I’ve done, however, I’ve learned that HIV/AIDS is a surprisingly bigger problem than it is perceived to be. I’ve learned that not only do we have to find a cure, but also we really need to educate people of all ages about the disease. All those whom I’ve spoken to about the prevention of HIV have said the same one thing: we need to raise awareness. The world needs to be informed about the facts, and I am so lucky that UNTIL has allowed me to be at the forefront of that change.

And lastly, I’ve gained a wonderful family here at Until There’s A Cure. The people I work with are all genuine and wholesomely dedicated to the cause. Because of that, we have quickly formed close bonds. I know that I will be able to maintain some of these relationships for a long time, and I thank UNTIL for that.

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It’s World Cup Time Again!

It’s World Cup time again! This international soccer event is not only a blast to watch and get involved with; it is the “biggest single-event sporting competition in the world.” 32 teams representing 32 countries, means millions of viewers partaking in celebrating the exciting event. What’s really special about the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, is that local public health officials are taking advantage of hosting the event, to draw attention to important issues like practicing safe sex and testing for HIV.

Local public health officials were handing out condoms and conducting rapid HIV tests outside near where many fans were watching one of the games on a big-screen TV. It is awesome because many people reported never been tested before, or not knowing where to be tested. This HIV prevention campaign was convenient, and accessible, which really had a great effect on the public.

The spirit of the games is happy and carefree, so many were more inclined to get tested because they felt safe and in a good place. The tests were also available in 11 other cities across Sao Paulo, and officials expected thousands of tests to be administered in total. The famous Maracana Stadium in Brazil is where the final game of the World Cup will be played this year, and has 78,838 seats. Each seat represents a person who will have the chance to get tested for HIV, quickly and conveniently.

If other sporting events follow in Brazil’s footsteps, this great idea to test for HIV in a pleasant, popular location could be phenomenal. The amount of people who will be exposed to HIV testing and information will grow exponentially if similar campaigns are run worldwide at different populated events.

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