Ashley Hall students reflect on HIV pandemic lecture from MUSC global & public health week

The response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic is not a typical topic most high school students learn about in biology class. But, that’s what Allison Sill Bowden, a ninth grade biology teacher at Ashley Hall, had in mind when she worked with the MUSC Center for Global Health to bring her honors class to MUSC Global & Public Health Week to hear from keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Quinn – one of the leading experts in the world on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
 
The Ashley Hall students were full of questions, ideas, and takeaways after hearing Dr. Quinn’s lecture on the response to HIV/AIDS pandemic and how it can serve as a model for other health concerns around the globe. See what these inspiring Ashley Hall students had to say about the eye-opening insights they gained from Dr. Quinn’s lecture at MUSC.
 
Penny Wallace: I thought the lecture from Thomas C. Quinn was very intriguing. I did not know anything about the HIV pandemic before the lecture. However, the lecture made me realize how important it is to have knowledge about the pandemic as it affects people from America to Eastern Europe. I found interesting that a 20 year old in the 80s that was diagnosed with HIV would have 1-2 years to live after being diagnosed however, today a 20 year old would have 53 years to live after being diagnosed with HIV. Also, I did not know that HIV is the hardest disease to have a vaccine work. I am curious if in the future scientists will find a great vaccine for HIV so we will meet our goal in 2030 is to eradicate HIV. 
 
Phia Anderson: Before the MUSC HIV Pandemic lecture, I never truly knew what HIV was or how it worked. While Thomas C. Quinn began to present, I could already tell it would be not an ordinary, boring lecture but an exciting and informational one. I enjoyed learning about his first-hand experiences in Africa and how he worked on the disease itself. When his goal in the first place was to prevent 7 million people from aids and now their goal by 2020 is 30 million people. That means that there were major breakthroughs in the HIV studies. I learned about Global Heath and what it truly means. Before this presentation, I thought global health was an organization where a large group of international scientist came together to try and solve the world's health problems. But, actually, global health is an area of study, research, and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. In conclusion, by going to the lecture on HIV/AIDS, I have learned more on a topic I have always been confused about and it helped me to finally understand the complexity of this pandemic. 
 
Ally Ewing: When reflecting on the HIV talk, the first thing that comes to mind is the discussion of the modern relevance of HIV. While I understood that people still had HIV, it never occurred to me that it was still an issue for millions of people. According to Dr. Thomas C. Quinn, South Carolina is actually one of the most affected states by HIV. Yet another fact unknown to me. This talk reminded me of why so much money is put into HIV each year and why it is important to learn about HIV. 
 
Dulcie Fava: Before this talk, I knew next to nothing about HIV and the effects that it caused. What shocked me the most was how there is such an increase in life expectancy once an individual starts treatment. Although what I was most hit by when leaving this talk was there are many people not getting the treatment they need. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about something that affects so many people globally. 
 
 
Mason Nistad: I went into the HIV/AIDS talk at MUSC knowing close to nothing about HIV. Knowing the basics of the virus, I was eager to learn more. With HIV/AIDS having been a leading cause of death in the 1980’s, as well as still being prevalent today, I found the information to be very valuable. I think the information that shocked me the most was how difficult it was to fight off the virus in Zaire, Africa where they could not afford the drugs and technology that was used to lengthen lives and prevent the transmission of the virus. In addition, I found the evolution of the treatment and prevention of the virus to be fascinating. In the last 30 years there has been many improvements, yet there is still more to improve on. In the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic a person testing positive for HIV at 20 would only survive 1-2 years after their diagnosis, if in fact it was diagnosed. But now, although there is no cure, a person infected with HIV can live a normal life, living 53 years after diagnosis at 20 years of age. Overall, attending this talk by Thomas C. Quinn was an experience that I will value for a long time. 
 
Jing Zhang: In the Friday’s HIV talk, I learned a lot of knowledge about HIV. There is an important point about the treatment of HIV: More than ever, human rights should be at the core of the global fight against HIV. In many countries, many people cannot get timely assistance, and even some people will have discrimination on gender or race, so that the people who have been discriminated will have more difficulty getting the assistance they deserve. And many people do not have a good understanding of HIV and reject it. This caused people with HIV to become isolated and have difficulty to integrating into society.  The process of HIV investigation and development is a challenge, but scholars have a goal for the future. We also know that people with HIV live longer, and that this incurable disease has been suppressed, which is tremendous progress. I think we should have a respectful attitude when we understand a disease. We should also respect those experts who study medicine, who have devoted a lot of effort to the study of a disease, so that more people can be treated. 
 
Tatiana Burkhalter: When I entered MUSC I felt like I was in a whole new world. I’ve always dreamed of going into a hospital and seeing all the doctors at work. I came in knowing nothing but just some medical facts from Grey’s Anatomy but now I know so much about diseases and how the United States is taking care of it. I enjoyed learning from Dr. Tom Quinn and how HIV works and who it is affecting. Now I know more about HIV! Did you know HIV is the hardest disease to find a vaccine for? In the 1980’s HIV and AIDS had a life expectancy of 1-2 years when diagnosed in a twenty year old. Now we have found a way to suppress HIV so the affected person can live 51 years longer. It is transmitted sexually, through needles, and mothers to children. The US is doing a great job following the disease and helping others all around the world especially Africa. In Africa many people are dying of the disease and have no medicine to help. The United States took it into their own hands and made an organization called PEPFAR to give money to Africa and other countries. Dr. Tom Quinn taught me many new things about United States response to HIV and I would have not known anything about it if it was not for him. I cannot wait to go to MUSC and learn more from great presenters like Dr. Tom Quinn.
 
Dorothy Fort: The AIDS talk at MUSC taught me so much. I was so unaware about how AIDS affects the world and how many stereotypes there are about AIDS. I find it crazy how much and how fast the world reacted to the AIDS pandemic! Extending life for 53 years after diagnosis is great! I learned so much from this talk and from Dr. Thomas C. Quinn. Thank you for letting Ashley Hall come to this talk!