This week our students tackled the global HIV/AIDS crisis. The case study, which required embassy visits (the Dominican Republic, India, South Africa, Namibia, and Malawi), extensive research, and the authoring of a policy memo, culminated in a two-hour Master Class with Ambassador Mark Dybul. Dr. Dybul was the leading mind behind the creation of PEPFAR, the largest allocation any country has ever made to combat a single disease. For the final three years of the Bush Administration, he guided PEPFAR as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, earning bipartisan praise for his effectiveness.
After each group of students presented its memo, Dybul challenged the students with dynamic questions that required them to rethink their recommendations. Along the way, he helped students learn key policy questions, each of which included an ethical dimension: Where will the money come from? How much money should you give? Why should we give foreign aid when we have problems at home? When should the partner country be required to contribute?
As part of our preparation, science teacher Alvin Fridie led a short science lab on the spread of viruses. How fast does a virus spread when safer sex practices are not used? When they are used?
We also met with Justin Goforth, Director of Education and Medical Adherence at the Whitman-Walker Clinic (DC’s largest HIV/AIDS health care provider). Goforth, who is HIV-positive and who adopted an HIV-positive son, provided current information about cutting-edge HIV research and reminded the students that the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in DC is likely as high as 5%–a dramatic epidemic that easily outpaces many sub-Saharan countries.
This post’s pictures include a few candids of everyday SEGL life. The past few weeks required a good deal of hard work but also included plenty of fun!