AMSA's Local Chapter Project Directory

Project title World AIDS Day Advocacy
Project type(s) Other
Date completed 12/01/2006
Chapter University of Virginia SOM
Project Coordinator Emily Sloan
Summary of project World AIDS Day on December 1 2006 received little attention from the medical community at the University of Virginia. Few people knew about it and even fewer planned to organize an event to commemorate the day. I decided that World AIDS Day would be a great opportunity to jump-start some advocacy and encourage others to get involved as well. I followed AMSA's suggestions and put together an empty white coat display to greet students and employees as they entered Jordan Hall, the building where medical and graduate classes take place and where most of the scientific research occurs. I learned that it takes loads of balloons to actually get the white coats to float! I had several stenciled white coats and managed to get two floating; I hung a third on the wall. I also had an information table that contained fact sheets about the health worker shortage in Africa, the Ryan White Act and generic anti-retrovirals. To entice people to the table I made catchy posters using some of the World AIDS Day material. It really looked nice – I used black and red posterboard, on which the final effect was striking. I also had a pile of make-your-own red ribbons. As people walked by the table, I encouraged them to gather information and to sign a letter to their Representative and President that requested needed funding for building health infrastructure in Africa. Those who were particularly motivated also took a letterhead and a sheet of talking points, so they could handwrite a letter to their Representative. I set my table up next to a group of medical students who were hosting a pancake breakfast benefit for Building Tomorrow: Destination Kampala. This worked well since people were attracted to the food and were milling about. Overall, I got over 50 letters signed to our Representative and President, which I later mailed. Many people took the information and a few wanted to handwrite letters. If nothing else, people saw advocacy occurring at our university, which may open them to the idea of taking action or at least being more receptive to it.

Content area HIV/AIDS
Number of participants 50
Participant hours involved 70 hour(s)
Coordinator roles
Coordinator hours hour(s)
Total project cost $75 out of pocket
Project funding
Funding breakdown of sources and/or donations:
Project advertising The Worlds AIDS Day table advertised along with the Building Tomorrow:Destination Kampala event, though fliers, university postings, and press releases. The fliers drew some attention to event, but most participants were those who directly passed by the booths. The media, although alerted and reminded, did not attend.
Success rating
(1 = unsuccesful, 5 = very successful)
Lessons/suggestions Next year I hope to do a similar event, but I’d like to enlist some more help. There are some logistical issues I now know, such as the balloon issue. I will also be more vocal in the future to pull people over to the table. Many people walked by and tried not to make eye contact, and sometimes I would just let them go. Next time I will say something!

Comments The more people you can involve, the stronger the event will be. If there had been more student involvement, we could have staged a rally or some other more direct advocacy and the media might have gotten involved.