Bickerstaff Center at Miller Children’s & Women’s Awarded $15,000 by Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in partnership with Macy’s to fight STIs and HIV/AIDS with new program

In a collective effort to decrease the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) diagnoses in Long Beach and the surrounding areas, the Bickerstaff Pediatric Family Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach plans to set up an educational program, targeted to young adults.

Recently, the Bickerstaff Center received $15,000 from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, in partnership with Macy’s Cause Marketing Program, Thanks for Sharing. The grant will be used to develop the Program titled “Teen Education on HIV/AIDS, STIs and Safe Sex Practices.”

The Program will be available to high schools in Long Beach and the surrounding areas during the 2019-2020 school year.

Debi Fingerhut, MA, CCLS, EdD(c), and Senior Child Life Specialist at the Bickerstaff Center, is thrilled at the opportunity to reach high school students to help in the prevention, treatment, destigmatization and ultimately the prevention of HIV/AIDS and STIs.

The program will use education tools, such as videos, anonymous question writing, and a discussion panel led by a child life specialist and another Bickerstaff Center expert.

“Previously, the Bickerstaff Center only supplied education in high schools around World AIDS Day,” said Debi Fingerhut. “This grant will really help our experts, which include pediatric infectious disease physicians, registered nurse specialists, clinical social workers, registered dietitians and child life specialists, extend support and education to young adults more often.”

Having experts in psychosocial and emotional support, medicine and nutrition from the Bickerstaff Center’s multi-disciplinary team will show students that there are many resources available to them.

“STIs have gone up in recent years—gonorrhea and chlamydia are the highest in Long Beach than anywhere else in California,” said Debi Fingerhut. “Chlamydia does not present a lot of symptoms in females. This is one reason education is key.”

By improving education on infectious diseases provided to Long Beach’s youth, the Bickerstaff Center hopes to spread the word that if people who are infected with HIV/AIDS take their medications regularly, then their infection can become undetectable and, therefore, untransmittable to others.

Since 1995, the Bickerstaff Center has not had one perinatal (mother to child) HIV transmission. Through comprehensive care, the Bickerstaff Center strives to help patients affected by HIV live normal, fulfilling lives from childhood to adulthood.

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