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New to Working in the HIV/AIDS Field? Welcomes and Tips From Fellow Advocates

November 28, 2012


Melanie Dulfo, M.S.W.

Melanie Dulfo, M.S.W.

APICHA Community Health Center, New York City

I would tell them not to be afraid, to be courageous. We may compare cancer in many ways to HIV; but cancer does not have the kind of stigma that's associated with HIV.

I think that HIV is insidiously changing. It's not just a gay white man's disease; now it is a disease that mostly impacts communities of color, low-income communities, communities that may not be prioritized. Now it impacts places where there are, like, third world missions or peripheral economies that may not have the resources or capacity to be able to deal with HIV.

Another disturbing thing about the HIV field: I think it takes a lot of courage because you will witness a lot of very discouraging events, like people becoming positive even though you've done prevention education work with them; people dying when you're a doctor and you're caring for them, and you're trying to make them adhere to treatment. When you're an outreach worker, people yelling at you.

To enter HIV prevention work, it takes a lot of courage, I think, because there is so much pressure and a lot of the stigma around the community. For anyone who's entering HIV work, it is one of the most fulfilling types of work that you'll be able to do, but you must take heart: Don't be afraid.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Marty (Jackson, MS) Tue., Jan. 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm UTC
I've been involved in HIV/AIDS/STI education and prevention for 20 years. You have to be a compassionate person and look past people's sexuality. I have been fortunate to work with very diverse groups and individuals in the HIV/AIDS arena and have learned one's sexuality does not measure who he/she is. Accept people for who they are.
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Comment by: Nova S (Pueblo Colorado) Mon., Dec. 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm UTC
Matt this is for you. You are doing good and right getting into the HIV/Aids field. I have been in it since 1982. You will get very attached to your patients and grieve when you lose them, you need to make your heart strong yet gentle for people with this disease. We can always make a difference even if in one persons life. There is always something new evolving with care and research. Hang in there.
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