Lets Talk Change

With the HIV/AIDS epidemic rapidly sweeping through the District, a group within the Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association planned to stop the spread.

In their last Thursday meeting, MWPHA health disparities committee said their goal is to advocate and discuss different health issues that are affecting the residents in the District. In particular, the committee is focusing on HIV/AIDS, especially since the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and the dependent areas is 468,578. Washington residents make-up 31,931 of those living with HIV/AIDS according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We focus on AIDS because it has the most inequalities in the health world,” Karyn Pomerantz said.

Pomerantz, an instructor and research scientist at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Service, has served as the committee chair since 2003. Pomerantz and fellow committee members are looking forward to making changes within the HIV/AIDS community, especially in efforts to making sure that people living with HIV/AIDS have stable necessities.

“Through advocacy and outreach, we plan to fight for proper treatment, jobs, housing, access to drugs and better knowledge of ways to prevent HIV/AIDS for all of those living with the disease,” she said.

Working in public health since 1996, Pomerantz is concerned with the committee making their demands clear and ensuring that they are understood those who have the power to change the services that are provided to persons living with HIV/AIDS. In conjunction with groups like DC Fights Back and Empower DC as well as being involved in events like AIDS Watch, sponsored by the National Association of People with AIDS, the committee said they plan to continue to promote advocacy and conduct outreach in neighborhoods such as Anacostia, Congress Heights, and River East.

“We need to make our actions more explicit,” Pomerantz said. “With our main focus being organizing and advocacy, we are sure to meet our goals and beyond.”