SOURCE: AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc.

April 27, 2005 16:05 ET

AIDS Action Committee's Jennease Hyatt Selected as 2005 Fellow of African American HIV University (AAHU)

Black AIDS Institute's AAHU Taps Hyatt as a Young Black Leader and Ambassador; AAHU Decreases Stigma and Increases HIV Science Literacy in Black Communities

BOSTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 27, 2005 -- AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc. (AAC) announced today that Jennease Hyatt, Homelessness Prevention Coordinator, has been named a Fellow in the 2005 African American HIV University (AAHU) Fellowship Program, created by Black AIDS Institute (BAI). She was selected to the two-year intensive program as one of about 20 Fellows from hundreds of applicants nationwide.

The AAHU Fellowship Program is a comprehensive training and internship program aimed at strengthening Black organization and individual capacity to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in local communities.

"Jennease is a perfect selection for this incredible honor, and AAC is thrilled and committed to support her in this very intensive and empowering endeavor," said Rebecca Haag, Executive Director, AAC. "We congratulate her and thank the Black AIDS Institute for its leadership in creating this Fellowship program. The African American community is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, and this program will help create new leadership within the community to address this growing concern."

Hyatt's two-year Fellowship: Training away and at-home community application

As part of her two-year commitment, Hyatt will receive in-depth training in Los Angeles, including a 30-day Science Academy (beginning June 8-9). The initial session is followed up with trainings every six months to ensure that Fellows stay abreast of new and developing prevention and education initiatives specifically related to Black populations. This time will also allow her and her colleagues to review information learned in previous trainings and advance their knowledge through use of lecture, small group discussions and large group activities. Hyatt will participate in study groups, conference calls and listserv activities.

Once back in Boston, she will continue her internship through activities such as facilitating AAC's participation in National Black HIV Awareness Day in February; collaborating with other ASOs, CBOs and traditional Black institutions to increase use of HIV services; organizing activities for National HIV Testing Day in June; and working with the Policy, Prevention, and Client Services departments to share what she has learned.

Why it matters in Massachusetts

More than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts are Black (non-Hispanic) or Hispanic. In sharp contrast, Black (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic individuals each make up 6% of Massachusetts' population. In the last several years, 76% of women diagnosed with HIV infection were women of color.

AAHU works with organizations and individuals to build upon HIV prevention and science knowledge and to promote activities that will address the underlying social, economic and cultural factors that prevent Black people from fully accessing and using HIV services.

Studies have shown that limited HIV science literacy, stigma and misperceptions present barriers for many African Americans in accessing and using HIV services and that these also play an important role in health disparities and may contribute to low quality health care.

Hyatt's participation in this important Fellowship will strengthen AAC's capacity and expertise in its work focused on eliminating HIV and AIDS healthcare disparities, including improving service delivery outcomes by enhancing Cultural Competence in program development.

Hyatt is already involved and contributing strongly to the community. She is Marketing/Public Relations Chairperson for Young Professionals Network (YPN), an auxiliary of The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. She is becoming a mentor for the National Black College Alliance (NBCA), is a member of Boston Urban Progressives (BUP) and a volunteer for City Live/Vida Urbana, a grassroots community-based organization that advocates for tenants' rights and housing justice. Hyatt earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Hampton University.

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc. (AAC), New England's oldest and largest AIDS organization, is dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS by preventing new infections and optimizing the health of those already infected. AAC provides free confidential services to men and women already living with HIV/AIDS, as well as conducts extensive educational and prevention outreach to those at risk of infection. AAC runs the only statewide AIDS Hotline (1.800.235.2331). AAC also advocates for effective science-based prevention programs.

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