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Inside Education and Health Sciences

World AIDS Day

By Ally Kaiser '24

Image caption: McGlone, on the end in green, facilitates during the “Conversations in Community Panel” part of the programming she planned for World AIDS Day.

"An HIV/AIDS diagnosis is not a death sentence."  

This phrase was one of the resounding themes from World AIDS Day, organized and run by junior Kassidy McGlone. Her week-long programming included a community panel pictured above, two "Stop the Stigma" talks by author Mike O'Loughlin, a virtual TED Talk, table hours, and free HIV/AIDS testing, reaching 1,099 students over the week.

McGlone's initial motivation to bring education and awareness to campus came as a way to fulfill the practicum for her community health concentration in the Department of Health and Sport Science at the University of Dayton. She knew she wanted to take a more unconventional approach to her practicum, so she chose to work alongside the Brook Center and was especially drawn to HIV/AIDS because she didn't know much about it. This choice allowed for a unique intersection of research in medicine, faith, stigma, and outreach at a Marianist university, which McGlone says does a wonderful job of welcoming students into its LGBTQ+ and worship communities concurrently. 

McGlone welcomed Mike O'Loughlin to campus to discuss his book, Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear. O'Loughlin, who identifies as a gay Catholic, spoke about the history of HIV/AIDS, specifically the 1980s AIDS crisis. 

"He said that some congregants risked their ministry and reputation during this time to support those affected by the AIDS crisis, and their bravery came from their commitment to honor the Gospel in its truest words: love everyone," said McGlone.

The "Conversations in Community Panel" was an opportunity for students to hear from four UD faculty members who spoke about current research, stigmas, and preventative actions. McGlone was especially glad Dr. Melinda Ruff agreed to be a panelist. 

"She told students the medical facts, reminding them that HIV/AIDS is ultimately a dangerous disease and should be taken seriously," McGlone said.

McGlone strategically chose Kristen Keen from the Brook Center, Rev. Renita Green who gave a faith-based perspective, and Dr. Sabrina Neeley, an associate professor of community health, to round out her panel. 

"Kassidy really took advantage of the opportunities that she had through her practicum at the Brook Center," said Neeley, who is also McGlone's academic advisor. "She did an excellent job of demonstrating her knowledge and skills in health education and promotion and provided valuable information to our campus community."

McGlone said it's a bittersweet feeling to be done. She wants students to prioritize their health and get HIV tested. They may not know that they are at risk, but the disease is dangerous without treatment — but with treatment, it can be safely and effectively managed. 

"I also hope students see what options they can have with their practicum," she said "The Brook Center is an awesome way to get involved on campus, be connected and make a difference."

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