The Center for AIDS Research at 35th and Market streets and its Community Advisory Board engage in outreach efforts among civic groups, local organizations and residents.
Tiffany Dominique, the Center’s coordinator, describes herself as a liaison between the research group and the community.
“They really are the voice of the community,” she said.
Dominique said it is the advisory board that has shaped the way such boards are seen, setting standards for others across the nation.
“We’ve had things like ‘meetings of the mind’ where we have had researchers come and get feedback from communities and disseminate information so that it is not just in some paper that other scientists read, but at a community level,” she said.
The Community Advisory Board is unique, giving the public an opportunity to respond to the work of researchers and scientists as well as providing input about the implementation of such work in their community. It is the members of the board who, according to Dominique, wear many hats but continue to work diligently to engage the people.
“I think certain segments of the community are forgotten, and they are begging and wanting people to come talk to them [about HIV/AIDS and the Center and the board recognize that,” she said. “We want to talk to gay men, we want to talk to straight men, we want to talk to transgendered, and we’re not leaving anyone out of the conversation.”
The advisory board, Dominique said, takes every effort to reach out to everyone in the community in order to share information as well as to direct residents to other possible resources. Right now, the organization is working with faith-based groups to further take its outreach efforts to the people.
While some complain the church has been slow to confront the issue of HIV/AIDS, she noted it wasn’t the church, but also some areas of the community, including the medical community, that were hesitant to approach the issue.
“You get into this gray area talking about things which make people uncomfortable; you talk about sex, you talk about drugs, you talk about things that people have moral or ethical issues around,” Dominique said.
“We must be mindful of the inclusion of the community in every single aspect. “It’s very easy to have a great idea and not think about the community. You might really have a cure for cancer, but if it’s so intolerable that nobody would take it, so what if you find the cure?”