Team Carolina | Make A Difference Day

By Ngo on November 11, 2011 in AmeriCorps

On Make A Difference Day, Team Carolina had the opportunity to collaborate with Partners in Caring (PIC), a grant-funded component of the Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) Pastoral Services Department and the DUMC Division of Infectious Diseases. Along with its main focus to provide spiritual assistance to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, PIC also is greatly involved in prevention education and testing in outreach and community settings. As our AmeriCorps team, and many other teams have surely come to know, the infectious disease known as HIV is not one that only affects the biological aspect of an individual’s life. It has breached to other facets such as social, political, and mental. It is wonderful that programs like PIC exist to help individuals cope with their condition, and help these individuals establish reassuring relationships with local churches and support groups.

The event that took place was a local health fair in Durham, NC at the Holton Resource and Training Center. Various groups came together to raise awareness about many medically-related conditions, including diabetes, cancer, and HIV. There were two simple but effective components to our service project: education and testing. Firstly, our team provided hourly educational sessions in which individuals learned the mechanics of the disease, ways of transmission, means of prevention,  and activities to generate awareness. This was extremely important, because many of these individuals would not have received HIV education otherwise. Secondly, HIV rapid testing was available free of charge. It was noticeable that although many were eager to learn about disease, many were afraid of the testing portion of the workshop. The large stigma associated with getting tested was evident, and the individuals who were tested were supported greatly during the process.

All in all, this service day was a great experience. It gave us the opportunity to put all the things we have learned through countless hours of training into real-life practice. The experience we had teaching, testing, and counseling first-hand cannot be substituted any other way, and will help shape our team into better ambassadors of the AIDS United message. We hoped we made a difference in all those we reached out to.

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