Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Morgan Bennett, BSN, RN. I recently started at JCPH in the Family Planning clinic and as the HIV program coordinator. I come to JCPH with nursing experience in college health, mental health, and neurological inpatient care. I received my Bachelors of Science degree in nursing from the University of Colorado. I am excited to be a part of the JCPH Community Health Services team!
I have heard many times in my current work that HIV has fallen off the radar. I grew up in an era when it was not always talked about and warnings about contracting the virus were not at every turn. I grew up in a much quieter time regarding HIV discussion. I knew it existed, and that it was transmitted through sex, but I did not know anyone who had it. Since my journey began as the HIV program coordinator, I have learned so much more about the virus, the treatment, and the ongoing work against stigma. Coming from a mental health background, stigma is something I am all too aware of. I know how ignorant and judgmental people can be with only knowing one small piece of the puzzle. It is my goal to bring awareness to the subject again and to inspire open conversations about the current work to end this disease.
Can you imagine an AIDS- free generation? As I have furthered my work in the HIV world, I have heard this term time and time again. I believe it is possible. Research and medications have progressed so far that the end of HIV is possible. It will be a long, tough road. But it is one that has plenty of interest and investments. From a global view, it is most daunting. In the countries most ravaged with HIV and AIDS, the medical infrastructure and the physical resources are not in place to meet this goal. In these places, people are working just to meet the most basic of health care needs, and engaging in immense amounts of patient education, testing, and distribution of safer sex materials.
In our own country, we have a profoundly better medical infrastructure and a much higher percentage of our population is literate, and somewhat educated on the concepts of HIV. From a public health stand point, my goals are to impact population health relating to HIV in the following ways: inform people about HIV, empower them by knowing their HIV status, link people to needed services, mobilize community partnerships to discuss and promote testing, and continually evaluate the effectiveness of what we are doing to meet the goal of an AIDS free generation.
What can you do to move us towards this goal? A few simple things. First get yourself tested. By knowing your HIV status, you have control to make healthy decisions for yourself and those you love. Second, being knowledgeable about the virus itself makes you an ally. It’s one more way people not familiar with the health care system can find out information about the virus and how it is spread. Finally, be an advocate. Stand up to stigma. Make it a conversation to have with friends, family, and significant others. Open communication is the first real step in making a difference.
JOIN Jefferson County Public Health on December 1 in participating in WORLD AIDS DAY. Wear a red ribbon in support. Learn something new about HIV, testing, or treatment and tell someone you care about what you’ve learned. FREE, walk in HIV testing will be available from 9 am to 3 pm on December 1 at the JCPH Lakewood office at 645 Parfet St. Call for more information or to schedule a low cost or free test for another day 303-239-7040.