East Bay Getting to Zero

On October 24, 2019, East Bay Getting to Zero (EBGTZ) successfully conducted its first HIV Teach-In in collaboration with Life Academy—a public school within the Oakland Unified School District that focuses on biotechnology, public health and medicine. Life Academy prepares students to become future health professionals through project-based learning, for which its 10th graders are tasked with conducting interdisciplinary HIV-related practicums each year.

In response, EBGTZ had the privilege of engaging Life Academy’s sophomore class in a half-day workshop-style seminar series about HIV prevention and care amongst youth. Approximately 60 students participated across four interactive sessions, each with the aim to introduce students to various aspects of HIV prevention and care as they brainstorm their HIV-related research project topics of interest.

The four workshops offered were as follows:

HIV 101: This workshop discussed HIV at the most basic level. The content was inclusive of the history of HIV, HIV transmission, myth busters, HIV-related stigma and discrimination, sex positivity and a basic prevention overview.

The Science of HIV: This workshop essentially served as an HIV 201 session, which was geared toward students who had a more advanced understanding of HIV. The content of this workshop included the HIV life cycle, HIV transmission, HIV treatment, simple science behind U=U, local data and trends, and a brief overview of scientific advancements in the works (e.g., vaccine trials, neutralizing antibodies, etc.).

HIV Prevention and Risk-Reduction: This workshop discussed PrEP/PEP, TasP/U=U, youth access to health services, minor consent/privacy, and an introduction to harm reduction as an HIV prevention (or risk-reduction) strategy.

Community Response to the HIV Epidemic: This workshop focused on engaging priority populations in HIV prevention and care. This session was conducted as a conversational session where facilitators discussed the work they currently do to empower the community around HIV prevention and care (e.g., outreach efforts, existing evidence-based interventions, best practices, etc). This session serves as a forum for which youth shared their perspectives, experiences, thoughts, concerns, and proposed strategies for effectively engaging youth in HIV prevention and care services.

The Life Academy HIV Teach-In was an extremely successful event. The conversations with and interest amongst the students serves as such a valuable step as EBGTZ strives to advance health equity and promote healing for all people impacted by HIV in the East Bay. A couple of post-event evaluation responses from the students that EBGTZ would like to highlight are:

“I don’t really have many fears any more because now I know that if you do get it there is still a way to go on and I learned some new way[s] that you could prevent it.”

“[I feel cool] just knowing the resources available and knowing that there are communities trying to inform people [that] the stigma around HIV is bootleg.”

East Bay Getting to Zero’s vision is to achieve an East Bay with zero HIV-related stigma, health disparities, or new HIV transmissions. With youth as motivated, dedicated, and inspirational as Life Academy’s 2019 sophomore class, EBGTZ can make this vision a reality.

Many thanks to Carmen Foster (La Clinica), George Jackson (APEB) and Xaviera Ortiz, MD (LifeLong Medical) for partnering with the EBGTZ core team to develop and facilitate workshop curriculum; special thanks to Life Academy for making this collaboration happen.