Unite to End the Epidemics: VOICES of NASTAD

By Shanell McGoy July 28, 2017

Unite to End the Epidemics, is the 2017-2018 Chair’s Challenge.  The challenge calls on health departments to assess and build on the necessary programs and policies needed to end the HIV and viral hepatitis epidemics. A vital part of this challenge is sharing stories that educate, inform, and inspire. That’s why today I’m launching the VOICES of NASTAD campaign, which will celebrate the unsung heroes who have dedicated their careers to HIV and hepatitis research, prevention, care, and treatment. 
 
VOICES of NASTAD will feature success stories that highlight the innovation of local programs that work to better meet the needs of people living with and at risk for HIV and hepatitis infection. We will also tell stories that shine a light on what motivates the people who work in these programs.  Why I Do This Work, Why I Unite.  Many of us come to HIV and hepatitis from a sincere desire to End the Epidemics.  Perhaps someone close to you has been infected or succumbed to the epidemics.  Perhaps someone close to you is living a full and productive life because of medical advancements.  What motivates people to stay committed to this arduous endeavor of ending the epidemics?           
 
When announcing the Chair’s Challenge, I introduced SANKOFA, representing the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future.  The need to acknowledge that over 30 plus years since the epidemic began we have made many advancements and are building on the lessons and progress of the past for the future.  I have also shared, from both of my Mississippi born Grandmothers, my inherited joy of quilting. I have used quilting as a metaphor for the diversity of the lives impacted by the epidemics, with each thread of the quilt equal in value, supporting its rich tapestry, sewn by people who care, and creating a beautiful work larger than each individual. VOICES of NASTAD is based on this idea. We all bring different voices, stories, backgrounds, and motivations to this work; but by uniting together we can achieve an even more beautiful work  that we were told not long ago was impossible: an end to the HIV and hepatitis epidemics.  
 
I encourage you to use the following questions to participate in the VOICES of NASTAD series. We want to hear your stories. 

  • What motivated you to pursue a career in this field? 
  • What has been your proudest moment? 
  • What else do you wish to accomplish that you have not already? 
  • What has this field of work taught you about yourself? 

You can follow the VOICES of NASTAD campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #VOICESofNASTAD. If you have a story you would like to share in the VOICES of NASTAD campaign, please answer the questions above in less than 300 words and email communications@NASTAD.org with your responses.