AAHU fellow Krystle Kirkland-Mobley: ‘Trust the process!’
One in a series about recent graduates of the African American HIV University (AAHU). Kirkland-Mobley was this year’s salutatorian.
What made you get involved in HIV/AIDS?
I started volunteering and doing a lot of community service in college and through my sorority. My first actual position was with Switchboard of Miami, a community-based organization where we educated college freshmen on HIV/AIDS, STDs and substance abuse.
Tell me about your current position.
I am the minority AIDS coordinator for the Florida Department of Health in Broward County. My job is to develop, plan and coordinate activities/programs for the Broward Greater Than AIDS high-impact prevention initiatives in Broward County for minority communities. I also provide support to the Broward County HIV Prevention Planning Council and its work groups to ensure every work group’s efforts include community mobilization and an increased engagement of community in HIV prevention.
In addition, I am the government representative for Sistas Organizing to Survive, a grassroots mobilization initiative that encourages Black women to get tested and be an active participant in their sexual health; and for the past three years I have also been the government co-chair for BTAN Broward, which is how I found out about AAHU.
Why did you want to be a part of AAHU?
I knew that my participation in AAHU would be a tremendous leadership-development experience for me and would provide additional skill sets that can be utilized in mobilizing the minority communities in Broward County. I think the information that I attained from AAHU has really impacted my career.
What did you learn?
The program provided a plethora of knowledge on science literacy and prevention knowledge that will further the engagement of our community partners. This opportunity has increased my knowledge of HIV/AIDS virology, effective communications, pharmacokinetics, biomedical and behavior interventions, among many other topics. I came back with innovative and resourceful community-mobilization ideas that can be used in creating prevention, testing, treatment and care initiatives that will upsurge our response to HIV/
AIDS in Broward County.
How have you been able to use what you’ve learned in the community?
The increased understanding of critical treatment-as-prevention strategies and interventions from AAHU has all-owed me to work more effectively and given me a boost of confidence. I have already hosted a series of presentations and activities through BTAN Broward and the county HIV workforce based on the trainings that I received from actively attending AAHU. And through my work with BTAN Broward, I have been able to provide educational forums on science and treatment advances to the community at large.
What can you tell me about your involvement with BTAN?
Our task was to move the chapter to the advanced level—we are considered one of the advanced chapters. We have a close relationship with the Department of Health in Broward County. This partnership has assisted our chapter in phase progression and always provides assistance with developing strategies and activities that increase scientific literacy with-in Black communities and in-crease the number of Blacks in appropriate early care and treatment in Broward County. BTAN Broward rocks!
Any advice for anyone who may want to attend AAHU?
It will definitely advance their knowledge, and it will help them make a larger impact in their community. It’s a commitment, but it’s a rewarding commitment at the end. I will give the same advice that was given to us at our AAHU boot camp: Trust the process!
April Eugene is a Philadelphia-based writer.