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July 26, 2012

Proud to Be Part of the Fight

I have been to numerous conferences being as though my status as a registered dietitian requires that I receive continuing education throughout my career. However, I have never been to a conference of this caliber. The XIX International AIDS conference was spectacular! From the moment I walked in, I realized I was surrounded by people who were passionate about educating as many people as possible about the realities of HIV.
Nutrition Services Manager, Janell Walker,
attends the XIX International AIDS Conference

I attended several sessions, but my favorite session was
“Addressing the Psychosocial Support Needs of Transitioning Adolescents Living with HIV Since Childhood: A Global Perspective.” Several speakers discussed the trials adolescents ages 10-19 experience when growing up and trying to figure out who they are in this world. I was intrigued to learn how support services can create an environment that promotes adherence to medications and enhanced self-care because I am currently trying to find a way to assist one of our young clients who is HIV positive, pregnant and homeless. The key is to create an atmosphere that is youth-friendly and focuses on long-term support. Between myself and her case manager, I think we will be able to improve her confidence, attitude and self-efficacy.

In addition to the conference sessions, I was elated to visit the Global Village which featured numerous organizations that work to empower people living with HIV/AIDS. The best aspect about the Global Village is that it was free and open to the community! I was glad to see so many young people involved in the “Condomize” campaign, an initiative to reduce stigma associated with condoms and increase access to education and community mobilization. Lastly, the artwork featured throughout the Global Village was amazing yet moving, as it revealed all the realities of a long struggle.

It was such a privilege to be part of the event and to experience the global push to end AIDS. The goal is an AIDS free generation and after my day at the XIX International AIDS conference, I am humbled and even more driven to continue to provide our services to the community.

Janell M. Walker, RD, LDN
Nutrition Services Manager

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