World AIDS Day

29 11 2011

Hard to believe FYSOP was 3 months ago (we still can’t believe it), however HIV/AIDS still remains extremely prevalent. This post is to bring attention to World AIDS Day this Thursday, December 1.

This week the Community Service Center’s Project Hope and Student Health Services are offering FREE rapid HIV testing. On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Law Auditorium, members of the BU Community will perform personal testimonies from Brooke Wurst and her organization TRIAD Trust. (Brooke was one of our Ed Day speakers this year and TRIAD promotes HIV/AIDS Awareness through the arts for students in South Africa.) On Friday from 3-5pm in the Howard Thurman Center, Dean Elmore will host Georgia Arnolds, producer of MTV’s Staying Alive campaign, for Coffee and Conversation.

Hope you can find time to participate in any of these events! Be sure to pick up free condoms and red ribbons in the GSU Link on Thursday 12/1 and spread the word.

For more information check out and follow @BUCSC #buworldaidsday11 on Twitter.

Love (with a glove),


FYSOP is Here!

31 08 2011

FYSOP 22 has officially begun!

Here’s a brief overview of what the Class of 2015 has been up to these past few days.

On Monday night, everyone was FYCeptioned during our Opening Ceremonies (paired with an unbelievable dance performed by the FYCO’s, if we do say so ourselves).

Yesterday we began with the Education Day Opener, and Mr. George Khaldun from the Harlem Children’s Zone and colleague of Mr. Geoffrey Canada, spoke about the importance of education as a foundation for service. Then they were introduced to the concept of FYSOP Fusion, the intertwining of all ten issue areas. FYSOP Coordinators performed passages from book excerpts, strung together to create a FYSOP Fusion book. Check out the Ed Day Opener here!

Then, HIV/AIDS Awareness volunteers heard presentations from TRIAD Trust’s Brooke Wurst, Alfredo Hernandez from the Education Development Center, and Mark Zatyrka from Camp Heartland. They also participated in a Antiretroviral Medication simulation, and the FYSOP-famous Condom Olympics to teach proper contraceptive use in order to prevent the spread of HIV.

All in all, it was a very educational and fun day. Today is the first day of FYSOP service. 95 HIV/AIDS Awareness volunteers and over 1,000 FYSOP participants total take on the city of Boston to make a change!

Much love (with a glove),


Come on Irene!

28 08 2011

Dear Irene,

You might threaten the East Coast with your high winds and rain…

…but you can’t stop Hurricane FYSOP.

Here’s what the HIV/AIDS Awareness staff has to say to you:

Nice try, Irene.

SEE YOU TOMORROW (Or Tuesday or Wednesday when your cancelled flights are rescheduled!) FYSOPers!

Much love (with a glove),

A, Z, and the rest of the HIV/AIDS Awareness crew

Staff Training Begins!

26 08 2011

Dearest FYSOPers,

Staff training for FYSOP 22 started today! (That means you’re almost here!!!) Yesterday, the Community Service Center and 20 FYSOP coordinators greeted over 200 upperclassmen who will lead you on service trips this time next week. Throughout training, FYSOP staff learn about their issue areas, participate in crazy FYSOP cheer competitions, and bond as a group to further strengthen the FYSOP family.

We want to give a big shout-out to Chris from Fenway Health for contributing to the education portion of our day by teaching our staff all about HIV prevention. His down-to-earth and engaging presentation sparked interesting questions and initiated great conversation amongst the staff. We have been graced with lots and lots of free contraceptives this summer and look forward to sharing them (along with our knowledge of HIV transmission) with YOU.

Another highlight of our first day of training was traveling to one of our volunteer sites: IMEC America. As noted in our Site Descriptions page, IMEC collects surplus medical equipment from New England Area medical centers and sends hospital suites overseas. Our 21-member staff was able to stack and prep 13 medical suites in 2 hours! These will aid hospital projects in Haiti, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Check our your incredibly good-looking, passionate, and hard-working staff! They’re all very excited to meet you and continue with meaningful service next week.

And look forward to more updates from us as staff training continues! You can follow our tweets at #fysop22 #fysophivaids #lovewithaglove. Hurricane Irene can’t overpower Hurricane FYSOP.

FYLove (with a glove),


Zach & Ali Get Tested

23 08 2011

In the city of Boston, there are many options for those at-risk for HIV and curious of their status. Although recent budget cuts threaten many free programs, including contraceptive distribution and educational programs, many clinics and medical centers in the city offer free rapid HIV tests.  Patients can walk in to the clinic without an appointment, get a finger prick, and know their status within 20 minutes. However such opportunities are not universally offered, and with a huge stigma still attached to HIV/AIDS in many other locations worldwide, the disease has continued to spread. Read as Zach & I share our thoughts on being tested for the first time:

Zach: “Today was our last site visit for HIV/AIDS Awareness. Ali and I visited Project Trust at the Boston Medical Center. While we were there, they were nice enough to give Ali and myself the free rapid HIV test. It was very interesting to actually go through the process of getting tested after spending all summer learning about HIV and the different types of tests.

 The first part of the process involved filling out a confidentiality form. Besides, your name, address, and telephone, the form also asked you how you found out about the test. The most important part though was a checklist of symptoms and if you were feeling or experiencing any of them. Depending on your answers, you can be placed into one of three tiers that have to do with the importance of you getting tested. Once you were brought into the testing room, they prick your finger right away so they can start the process. The needle prick was painless and a drop of your blood is taken for the rapid test. Then it needs to sit for 20 minutes so you can find out your results. Once the 20 minute countdown has started, the person administering the test asks you about your sexual history and any questions that have to do with the risk of you getting HIV. I also found it interesting how they ask you about your support system, thoughts about suicide, and how you would react to being positive.

 Once all that is done, you go back into the waiting room. Waiting is the worst part of the experience. Even though you can be 99% sure you don’t have HIV, there is always that 1% chance and that can be very scary while you wait. After the 20 minutes are up, they call you back into the testing room and deliver your results to you. They also give you your results on paper so you can keep that.

I am so glad that we finally were able to get tested and blog about it. We wanted to share our experiences so that other people can understand the process and even go get tested with less hesitancy. It was an extremely easy process and my advice would be never to hesitate getting tested if you ever feel you need to be.”

Ali: “Looking back on the testing experience today, I feel extremely fortunate. It’s amazing that Zach & I could get tested for free, in a brand-new testing facility in the Boston Medical Center’s Shapiro Center (affiliated with Boston’s Project TRUST), in a judgment-free zone, in under 20 minutes. Across the Atlantic Ocean, the closest testing facility in a remote African country could be hours away, while hatred and ignorance towards the disease could prevent anyone from even attempting the long trek.

While the two of us were able to giggle over goofy magazine articles in the waiting room as we anticipated our results, it’s sad to know this relaxed experience is not necessarily the same for all. Particularly when, personally, my risk factors are very low. However, following the clinician back into the testing room when my 20-minute timer went off was still a bit nerve-racking, and my heart did a little flip-flop when she handed me the envelope with my results.

Luckily, both of us did test negative today. However many are not so lucky. I was most interested by the questions the Department of Public Health requires testing locations to ask after the blood sample is taken. The clinician asked how I would feel if I was HIV positive and who I would tell. While I was expecting responding to a “Risk Factor Questionnaire,” those two questions in particular caught me off guard, and it really made me wonder how I would feel (surprised, scared, confused, hurt, helpless) and who I would tell (my family, my doctor, my closest friends). Again, I feel so incredibly grateful to have a support group that will assist me if the results turned out differently.

I don’t want to preach- but with such easy access to HIV testing in the United States, and Boston in particular, everyone should take advantage of this opportunity. Knowing your status brings us one step closer to stopping the spread of this disease.”

See you in ONE WEEK, FYSOPers!

Much love (with a glove),


What We’re Most Excited For

18 08 2011

Hi FYSOPers!

Attention attention attention: FYSOP is less than two weeks away.

Wait…hold on…what?

How is that true?

As cliche as it sounds, it feels like just yesterday we were calling our first volunteer sites, Googling facts about HIV/AIDS, and making lists of all the places we wanted to explore in Boston during the summer. Now as August 29th approaches and we put the finishing touches on FYSOP (and try to remain sane and get sleep in the process), Zach & I wanted to share what we’re most excited for.

We CANNOT wait to meet you and hope you are just as excited for your first week at BU!

Much love (with a glove),



9 08 2011

In 1981, the term “internet” was first mentioned, Post-It Notes were created, Lady Diana married Prince Charles, Ronald Regan became the U.S. President, and AIDS was first discovered in the United States.  It’s hard to believe these events happened more than ten years before you were born!

Although FYSOP celebrates its 22nd year in August, the HIV/AIDS Awareness issue area is focusing on a slightly bigger number: 30.  June 5, 2011 marked the 30th anniversary of the first report of AIDS in the United States, when a handful of homosexual men in San Francisco and New York were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer and pneumonia that doctors had difficulty explaining.  Now, HIV/AIDS affects about 33.3 million people worldwide, including 15.9 million women and 2.5 million children.

*Check out the timeline section of this blog for a breakdown of 30 years since the discovery of HIV/AIDS.

And to get you started…here’s a video from CBS News covering the highlights of the last 30 years.

Much love (with a glove),