Through the Preparing the Future (PTF) program, Project SHALEM is expanding the community's involvement beyond the scope of the faith-based community by engaging academia to train emerging leaders to integrate HIV into their future practice, and create a curriculum that is transformative, sustainable and reproducible in academic settings across the United States.
On January 1, 2013 the JACQUES Initiative and partners from each professional school on campus launched on Preparing the Future II (PTF II). Building on the momentum from the first year of the project, PTF II aims to further lay the foundation for the routinization of HIV testing and linkage to care at the University of Maryland’s professional campus and close the significant gaps in diagnosis, linkage and retention in HIV care in the United States through its multi-disciplinary approach. PTF II will achieve its goal by integrating the PTF curriculum in the academic programs on its campus, with particular focus on populations disproportionately impacted by HIV, while piloting the routinization of testing at selected inpatient units at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and in the university’s dental clinic to test a total of 7,585 people for HIV.
PTF II is an investment in Maryland’s future, developing the infrastructure for an AIDS-free generation.
The PTF program inspired a campus-wide event on April 16, 2012, the University of Maryland Leadership in HIV Summit: Preparing the Future. The event drew 400 campus leadership, faculty, students, policy makers and community members in a forum that featured student displays reflecting how being better informed about HIV has impacted their lives, a campus-wide plenary, breakout sessions and a community partnership town hall.
Learn more about the 2012 Leadership in HIV Summit.
Throughout my Preparing the Future experience, I was struck by how many people want to know their HIV status. I think that this speaks volumes about what we are doing to educate people about HIV. People really care about their health. I learned that HIV testing doesn’t have to be judgmental. It’s really important to prevent the tendency of stereotyping of the person you may see in front of you, or even see through a medical history. You want to see each individual as someone who is unique.
I have chosen a profession of working with people and improving their quality of life. When HIV is left untreated we know that outcomes are not good. By learning how to offer HIV testing in my future practice, I will help bridge the huge and intimidating barriers that are associated with this disease.
As a Preparing the Future student, I learned the importance of HIV testing, linkage to care and supportive services. HIV is an issue that should be normalized and routinely addressed in all health care settings. As a nurse, I will take this knowledge to the bedside and the community. I will be a patient advocate and educator. I will provide resources to my patients.
I recently cared for an HIV-positive patient in the post-partum unit where I work as a Student Nurse. I applied my knowledge from Preparing the Future to help link this patient to resources in the community. I explained the importance of medication adherence. I would not have been able to be there for her in this capacity without the knowledge I gained through this program. Preparing the Future has empowered me to impact the lives of patients as well as the people around me!
When I first started graduate school as a social work student I didn’t expect to be involved with HIV. That all changed when I was placed at JACQUES Initiative. I observed first hand that having HIV is not a death sentence. At JACQUES I met an energetic HIV-positive staff member who inspired me. It was this relationship and others that have changed my perspective on what it means to live with HIV.
Before my internship at JACQUES, I didn’t really understand how such a broad range of social services was necessary to help someone with HIV. There really needs to be a multidisciplinary effort of doctors, nurses, social workers and legal workers all collaborating together for the sake of the patient. It is because of this Preparing the Future experience that I will approach my future career as a Social Worker with this multidisciplinary mindset. After all, the real value is to the patient. It makes the patient feel loved. It makes the patient feel respected.
I am a Community Mobilizer. I want to DO something, rather than just show up and I encourage the same for my peers. My dream is to see the community come together as one. As emerging leaders, it is our responsibility to mobilize and foster unity. Our community cannot be whole without addressing HIV.
Preparing the Future enabled me to engage fellow students from multiple disciplines in a meaningful exchange of information and skills. We mobilized our university community to acknowledge their own fears and be tested for HIV on World AIDS Day. As emerging leaders, we have begun to shed our own biases. We are “normalizing” HIV. We are “Getting to Zero.”
For more information on Preparing the Future, please contact:
Alexandra "Allie" Reitz, BS
Coordinator, Community & External Affairs
The JACQUES Initiative
Institute of Human Virology of the University of Maryland- School of Medicine
Summit photos are by Antonio D. Paterniti.
Support for ‘Preparing the Future’ provided by Gilead Sciences’ HIV FOCUS program & The Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.