On June 1st, 2015, I started my first week interning at AIDS Action Committee (AAC) in Boston, MA. AAC is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1983. AAC is New England’s largest AIDS service organization and aims to prevent new infections, support those infected with HIV/AIDS, and address the root causes of HIV/AIDS. AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts advocates at the city, state, and federal levels for fair AIDS policies and also hosts HIV prevention programs and health services for people living with HIV. Some of AAC’s programs include HIV counseling and testing, mental health counseling, a needle exchange program, a housing program, a health library, client advocacy and case management, and more. Learn more about AAC here.
At AAC, I am working as an intern in the Housing Search and Advocacy department as a Housing Search Associate. It is my responsibility to research affordable housing options available to AAC’s clients. I call housing managers to help update AAC’s affordable housing database for its clients. Later in my internship, I will start to provide direct service to clients by helping to lead housing search groups, and I will also work individually with clients who may have low literacy or speak English as a second language to help educate them on the housing options that they have available to them.
For my internship, I have different academic, career, and personal goals. An academic goal is to be able to use information that I have learned in my public health classes to further examine the health disparities that my clients at AAC face. I want to be able to think deeply and critically about possible policy recommendations that could be developed and implemented to help alleviate some of the issues that people with HIV/AIDS face when trying to access safe and affordable housing.
One career goal is to learn how to best educate and advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses. In my future health career, I will work with patients who have illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, and I want to learn more about some of the biggest problems that these people face on a daily basis so that I can get a sense of how to best cater to their needs. Health care providers and educators often treat the patient’s disease, but forget that the individual is more than just their illness and that there are psychological, emotional, and social factors that contribute to one’s experience of illness. I hope that some of the testimonies that I hear over the summer will help shape me into becoming a more culturally competent future health care provider.
A personal goal is to learn more about real estate and the housing market. My internship entails being able to navigate the housing system by talking to and negotiating with property realtors and housing managers. Through this difficult task, I want to learn more about the housing market and how to get the best deals, as this would be a useful skill to have for the future when I want to buy or rent my own house or apartment. I look forward to the rest of my time here at AAC and I am very excited to learn more about HIV/AIDS advocacy.