NCSU Students Tackle HIV/AIDS
Amanda McKnight | Staff Writer
My Health Impact Network, a non-profit organization started on N.C. State’s campus, is doing its due diligence to educate young people in the black community about HIV/AIDS. One way it is doing this is through the use of technology. It will soon be launching an app in the Android Marketplace.
Dedicated to informing the youth, specifically black college-aged women, and eliminating health disparities, My Health Impact Network (myHIN) subscribes to the theory that education is a key factor in making people aware of how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.
In 2010, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in the US despite being only 12 percent of the population according to the Center for Disease Control.
Also according to the CDC, 5 million individuals, ages 15-24 were living in the world with HIV in 2010. This disease is no longer a “them over there” issue but one that affects everyone, especially minorities.
Robert Marshall, a senior majoring in Business, joined myHIN in the fall of 2012 as a research scholar.
“I became a part of myHIN after a few conversations with some of the other research scholars and a meeting with Dr. Fay Payton, who is a Principal Investigator. I always wanted to help with a health related issue like this and myHIN was the perfect opportunity,” said Marshall.
My Health Impact Network uses a grant from the National Science Foundation to reach out to students who are on social media.
“We definitely emphasize the use of social media to create a network for our peers to be informed about the issues and discuss them,” said Marshall. “We use Twitter as the main medium for our interaction and often send out facts, ask for opinions and let our followers know about things we have coming up. We just want to start the conversation, get people talking, and create a network of support and information.”
My Health Impact Network has a website, myHealthImpactNetwork.org. It is geared toward students and their individual needs, aiming to assist those who may be apprehensive about starting a conversation about sexual health with his or her doctor.
“A lot of times we don’t want to talk to other people face to face,” said Marshall. “We may feel embarrassed about the questions that we have or may not want to give the impression that we may have these issues. My Health Impact Network allows users to get that information and hopefully gain confidence in knowing that we, as individual peers are here to help and support each other. The first step is just to reach out in a tweet, a DM, or just by reading our blog posts.” Marshall is not the only student research scholar involved with the project. My Health Impact Network has graduate students on staff as well as a team of undergraduate students who are the face of the organization to the community.
“I believe that having the research scholars as the face of the endeavor has definitely opened some doors and given a fresh look on how these health issues are tackled,” said Marshall. “We attend events and reach out to other organizations and even do presentations. We definitely have the support of the professional staff but they let us take on a lot of the responsibility.”