Boston Globe Profiles Advocate Who Promotes HIV/AIDS Awareness Among Teenagers
The Boston Globe on Monday profiled John Chittick, who in 1997 founded TeenAIDS-PeerCorps, a not-for-profit group that teaches teens worldwide about HIV/AIDS. Chittick reaches out to teens about the disease through his "World Walks" -- yearly international trips to countries with high HIV/AIDS burdens. In two weeks, Chittick will travel to Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. He estimates that he has spoken with 300,000 teens in more than 80 countries since his first trip ten years ago and said he hopes to add 10,000 teens to that list during his next trip.
The Globe reports that Chittick's approach -- which he calls an "AIDS Attack" -- is to wear a "tourist-in-a-Hawaiian-shirt disguise"; hand teenagers a business card that includes information about HIV in their native language; and, with the help of a translator, say, "This info here could possibly save your best friend's life. Do you want to hear it?" Barry Ansin -- who founded Common Sensitivity, a central Massachusetts organization that conducts HIV/AIDS education -- said that Chittick "gets teens to really respond by treating them in an intelligent manor. He gives them the facts and allows them to make their decisions."
TeenAIDS relies on private funding, and does not receive government funding because Chittick said that he does not want "any strings attached." Chittick said, "I am certain that I'm saving lives, and I'm enabling kids to do the same," adding, "Every time I leave a kid, I look them in the eye and say: 'You're now a teacher. You have the ability to save lives. Go out and do it' (Baker, Boston Globe, 11/3).