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January 17, 2008

We're proud of ASC's presentation at the December 2007 National HIV Prevention Conference, hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The talk, by ASC Training Coordinator Guy Williams and Program Manager Deborah Yuelles, gave an inside look at a pioneering collaboration between ASC's Peer Education Program and Stony Brook University. Professor Helen Lemay of the Manhattan Campus of Stony Brook University shared the stage with them.

As part of this rare cross-pollination between academia and ASC's Peer Education Program, 15 ASC Peer Educators and staff members participated in college-level courses on "AIDS and the Social History of Medicine," taught by Dr. Lemay for the past two academic years.

"There are still many misconceptions about HIV, and we were able to dispel those myths in the class. By putting real faces to the idea of HIV and HIV prevention, we made the issue more real to the other students in the class," explains Deborah Yuelles. "And the ASC Peers who took the class benefited as well. They received college credits for the course and learned how to study, do research and speak in public. Several of these ASC Peers went on to continue their education and get jobs. The course helped them build their self-esteem and take important next steps in their lives."

According to Dr. Lemay, "The purpose of the class was to bring HIV education into the college classroom. Today's college students will be the next generation's leaders and thus need a solid understanding of the realities of HIV from various perspectives— historical, social, cultural, and economic."

To broaden the dialogue further, Dr. Lemay began including high school students into the class. She focused on young people from neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, including East Harlem. A natural next step was to bring in men and women at the forefront of HIV prevention, so an invitation to ASC's Peer Educators and HIV prevention staff was extended.

"It was a privilege to represent ASC at a national conference," says Guy Williams. "Our presentation included data, but also included the story of how to do a real collaboration with positive results for everyone involved."

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