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Georgia Southern conference explores HIV/AIDS care in rural communities

The 5th Annual Rural HIV Research and Training Conference was held earlier this month in Savannah. Many health care providers, educators, and individuals effected by HIV/AIDS attended the conference at the Coastal Georgia Center.

HIV/AIDS activist Jeanne White-Ginder was the keynote speaker. White-Ginder’s son, Ryan, lost his battle to AIDS in 1990 after contracting HIV during one of his many blood transfusions to treat hemophilia.  White-Ginder spoke about the role that HIV/AIDS stigma play in fueling the epidemic today and her firsthand account of the battle one faces when fighting the disease.

Other featured guests included Dr. Gregory Felzien, medial advisor for the Department of Public Health; Sally Jue of the American Psychological Association Office on HIV/AIDS; Patt Gunn, founder of The Geechee Institute; Dr. Brian Deloach of Georgia Southern University Student Health Services; and Dr. Travis Sanchez, associate professor at Rollins School of Public Health.

Thomas Koballa, Ph.D., Dean of Georgia Southern University’s College of Education, made the opening remarks at the conference and highlighted why the conference is vital to the region.

“With the Zika virus and other health care concerns grabbing headlines, HIV/AIDS does not have the public attention it once did,” said Koballa. “However, this does not diminish the threat of HIV/AIDS to the wellbeing of many, particularly in rural communities where HIV/AIDS health care and education may not be as accessible as in urban and suburban areas. The need to address the personal and community concerns associated with the illness remain real.”

The Rural HIV Research and Training Conference is an annual two-day forum for the exchanging of the latest knowledge and tools that can assist in the challenges faced by rural communities in the battle with HIV/AIDS epidemic. In partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the event is hosted by Georgia Southern’s College of Education and the University’s Division of Continuing Education.

The 6th Annual Conference has been scheduled for September 8-9, 2017 at the Coastal Georgia Center, Savannah. For more information about past conferences, visit


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