When it comes to working with the community to eradicate HIV and hepatitis C, Drexel College of Medicine’s Stacey Trooskin knows that beside the diseases she is fighting, her strongest opponent is stigma.
That’s why reaching the semifinalist round of Philadelphia Magazine’s 2015 Health Hero Challenge feels so good.
“HIV and hepatitis C should be viewed as chronic health issues — no different from diabetes and hypertension — that need to be diagnosed and treated,” Trooskin, MD, said. “The fact that our program is even nominated among impressive health and wellness programs tells me that we are making progress.”
The magazine’s annual awards honor those working to make their communities in the Philadelphia area “healthier and happier.”
Trooskin was nominated for her work with “Do One Thing, Change Everything,” a campaign that urges those in the community to do a simple mouth swab or finger stick test to determine whether they have HIV or hepatitis C. Following that, if a person needs it, Do One Thing uses health care navigators to help patients get the care they need. Trooskin began the program while collaborating with Amy Nunn, PhD, of Brown University.
“Prior to coming to Drexel, I had run a testing program in West Philadelphia with student volunteers,” Trooskin explained. “I wanted to start testing for hepatitis C using a specific model I had developed. Do One Thing was a perfect opportunity to launch it.”
Beginning Sept. 22, those looking to support Trooskin can vote for her. Voting for her round, the second, closes Sept. 28. If she receives enough votes to move on, she could compete for the 2015 title and a $7,500 prize for her favorite charity.
Although winning the contest would be a big honor, Trooskin remains focused on her ultimate goal: Getting everyone who was diagnosed through Do One Thing to enter into care.
“I measure our success through the eyes of my patients,” Trooskin said. “Several individuals diagnosed with hepatitis C on the van [used for mobile testing] had not been to see a provider in many years.”
Through the outreach of Trooskin and her team, many have gotten in to see primary care physicians, stopped smoking, improved their diet and even gotten treatment for their hepatitis C and been cured.
“It is wonderful to see the impact that the one decision to get tested can actually have on someone’s health,” Trooskin said.
Help Trooskin become Philadelphia’s 2015 Health Hero by voting here, beginning Sept. 22.