Last week, Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House residents and staff welcomed a group of students from DePaul University. The students came to Bonaventure House as a part of a class titled ‘Diverse Faces of AIDS’. The class aims to provide a holistic view of the AIDS epidemic. This includes learning the epidemiology, history of the disease in the United States, visiting and learning about the various HIV/AIDS service providers in the Chicago area, and meeting individuals affected by HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the class is to allow the students the opportunity to “experience the human face of AIDS”. The class covers every dimension of AIDS from policy and advocacy to how AIDS affects a person physically, socially, spiritually, legally and psychologically.
The students came to Bonaventure House to learn about the history of the Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry, what services are offered and who receives the services. David Dempsey, Director of Clinical Services, led the students through the history and mission of Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry. One of his most potent comments was that even though HIV is now seen as a manageable medical condition, it by no means signals that society can stop focusing on preventing the spread of infection. Classes such as ‘Diverse Faces of AIDS’ are a sign of continued interest and renewal of efforts towards prevention. The act of increasing awareness, something the DePaul class does admirably, is prevention itself. One cannot help to think the more people see the human experience behind HIV/AIDS, the more efforts will go into prevention and helping those affected, as well as help erase the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
After learning about Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry, the students were given the opportunity to speak with five Bonaventure House residents. The residents were able to tell their stories. The students learned about the residents’ lives, the circumstances that brought them to Bonaventure House, and what effect Bonaventure House has had on their lives. Opportunities such as this, to put a human face and experience on HIV/AIDS, and to allow a dialogue about how HIV/AIDS affects people on an individual level, can go a long way to break down barriers.
You can find more information about ‘Diverse Faces of AIDS’ here.