Friday, June 18, 2010

Educating teens about HIV

HIV education: Charles, far left, with community participants and Stone, far right

Promoting HIV prevention and education to Massachusetts' teens, Project DeliverUs is a community program developed under the auspices of Valerie Stone, MD, MPH, associate chief of the General Medicine Unit, and local independent filmmaker Kathryn Hall, who produced the film, "Deliver Us," about HIV in communities of color. A partnership among several organizations, Project DeliverUs, launched in 2009 and features a series of workshops held at local community centers. Each workshop begins with a screening of the film "Deliver Us," followed by a discussion with an HIV expert from the MGH about the disease. The teens then take time to creatively express their reactions to the film and their feelings about HIV.

"At each workshop, there were approximately 10 to 50 kids from across the city who heard an overview about HIV in Massachusetts' African-American community," says Stone, who attended nearly all of the 12 workshops along with Hall. "The attendees discussed the film's messages about HIV risk, stigma and prevention, and many of the teens posed really insightful questions to our team of HIV experts. They also produced incredibly creative expressions of what they learned through spoken word, drama, poetry, collage, drawing, painting and singing. These teens really engaged in the program."

In addition to Stone, the MGH physicians who participated in the program were internal medicine residents David Munson, MD, Joseph Joyner, MD, Kelly Seichepine, MD, and Guibenson Hyppolite, MD, and infectious disease physicians Richelle Charles, MD, Bisola Ojikutu, MD, and Marylyn Addo, MD, PhD.

On June 3, several of the physicians and more than 100 of the teens who had participated in the project, along with their family members and friends, gathered at The URBANO Project in Jamaica Plain to celebrate the culmination of the initiative. Teens presented their projects on stage, and a panel of judges comprising MGH physicians, local artists and community leaders, awarded prizes for projects in each category.

"The intention of the closing event was to reinforce the messages, empower participants to speak out in their own ways about HIV/AIDS in the community and offer HIV testing to people who were inspired to receive it," says Stone. Project DeliverUs was funded in part through a community education grant from Gilead Sciences. To view the Project DeliverUs art and other creative projects, search for "Project DeliverUs" on Facebook at For more information about the project, contact Stone at

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