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Leading the Way in Fighting HIV

The inaugural Long Island Ending the HIV Epidemic Campus Advisory Committee, led by Dr. Anthony Santella, far right.

A Hofstra public health professor is leading a new, state-funded student committee to help combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The Long Island Ending the HIV Epidemic Campus Advisory Committee was conceived and  launched under the direction of Anthony Santella, DrPH, an associate professor of public health in the School of Health Professions and Human Services, who won funding from the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute for the project.  The committee’s 23 student members attend regional schools including Hofstra University, Adelphi University, Farmingdale State College, and New York Institute of Technology, among others.

“We hope to increase knowledge and awareness on local college campuses of ETE (Ending the Epidemic) efforts and campaigns,” said Dr. Santella, a noted HIV researcher and past chair of the Nassau-Suffolk Ryan White HIV Planning Council.  “Our student representatives will also gain and improve skills in community outreach and engagement, which is important for their own career development.”

In 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statewide plan that aimed to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020 through a three-pronged approach of identifying people with HIV and linking them to care and treatment, helping them maintaining regular contact with health providers to achieve viral suppression, and making access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, an FDA-approved medication to prevent transmission of HIV) easy and affordable.

“The goal is to get to fewer than 750 new HIV infections each year, and Long Island needs a lot of that focus because it has been home to the largest suburban HIV epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. Santella.

Daniela Fraticelli, a first year Master of Public Health student at Hofstra, wanted to join the committee because of the stigma and lack of education that still exists about HIV. 

 “When I was an undergraduate, I took a class called HIV/AIDS and Society, and it made me realize how prevalent this disease is even though we have effective treatments,” she said. “We need to raise awareness and come up with evidenced-based solutions to the problems faced by people living with HIV and those looking to get tested. This is also important to me as a future public health professional because part of our job is to serve as a population health advocate and being a member of the ETE Committee gives me a glimpse into what doing that is like through educational and preventative efforts.”

The state health department approved the pilot project for the ETE Campus Advisory Committee for one year. Applications were sent to all colleges and universities on Long Island, and 23 students were chosen to serve until May 2020.  The group met initially in October for an orientation and training session, and will meet another three times during the academic year to discuss progress on campus events and promotions and community partnership initiatives.   Each student receives a $250 stipend for travel and other expenses.

Kayla Halper, a nursing major from LIU-Post, will join Dr. Santella as the committee’s student co-chair. Hofstra alums Jessica Clark, MPH’17 and Brett Wargo, BS’17, who are co-chairs of the Nassau and Suffolk ETE regional committees, respectively, will help organize group meetings.

Members of the inaugural Long Island Ending the HIV Epidemic Campus Advisory Committee include:

Name College Major
Ashley Hazan Adelphi University Social Work
Llima Berkley Adelphi University Public Health
Andy Charlorin Farmingdale State College Science, Technology & Society
Sophia Gomes Farmingdale State College Bioscience
Khadija Ali Farmingdale State College Science, Technology & Society
Lauren Gentile Farmingdale State College Certificate in the Sciences for the Health Professions
Saher Chaudhry Hofstra University Neuroscience
Moran Yazdani Hofstra University Public Health
Abby Briggs Hofstra University Community Health
Daniela Fraticelli Ortiz Hofstra University Public Health
Kayla Halper Long Island University Nursing
Kimone Johnson Nassau Community College Nursing 
Sarah Gilman New York Institute of Technology Medicine
Madison Baker New York Institute of Technology Medicine
Elisabeth Frankini New York Institute of Technology Medicine
Brittney Canada Old Westbury State College Biological Sciences
Angela McDermott St. Joseph’s College Human Relations
Yashasvi Bajaj Stony Brook University Psychology
Kacper Iwanowski Stony Brook University Neuroscience 
Stefani Gallagher Suffolk Community College Nursing
Keara Doherty Suffolk Community College Nursing
Samkaris Oghenekome Suffolk Community College Liberal Arts 
Lauryn Meisner Suffolk Community College Liberal Arts

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