The center will be headed by GSSW Continuing Education Director Vincent Lynch, who has been a key organizer of an annual national conference which brings together hundreds of practitioners and researchers to discuss AIDS and HIV issues in social work.
Lynch said the center will serve as a clearinghouse for sponsored programs, projects and activities that focus on prevention and other services to client populations who are particularly vulnerable to the disease. To help carry out its initiatives, the center has appointed several distinguished social work experts in HIV and AIDS as associates, he said.
"We consider it very timely to put an emphasis on training and research related to HIV and AIDS," Lynch said. "In the popular media there is the perception that AIDS and HIV are leveling off. The overall numbers of people with the disease may be down, but it is sky-rocketing in certain populations, including the poor and people of color.
"Social work has an historic commitment to serve those who are most in need and who have little economic or social resources," Lynch continued. "The profession can play a leadership role in addressing HIV and AIDS issues, and we hope the center will help make this happen."
"It is very appropriate for this center to be located at Boston College," said GSSW Dean June G. Hopps. "The idea of marshaling academic and professional expertise to bring about social changes benefiting persons at risk is at the heart of the mission of GSSW, and Boston College. The center also represents an opportunity for social workers to spark greater awareness of the far-reaching impact of HIV and AIDS in our society."
The center's first initiatives will be sponsorship of the annual HIV/AIDS conference, which will observe its 10th anniversary when it is held May 27-30 in New Orleans, Lynch said, as well as a conference in Atlanta Feb. 20-22 on HIV prevention strategies for African-Americans.
The center plans to publish proceedings from the annual conference, said Lynch, who will serve as editor.
Lynch said he and the other center associates will convene a three-day retreat by the end of next spring to refine the center's mission statement, develop a three-year agenda for research and training, and create a plan for seeking external funding for center projects. He noted the center has formed strong ties with Glaxo Wellcome Inc. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have helped fund, respectively, the annual conference and the February event in Atlanta.
"We've been very pleased with the support we've received, and we'll continue to build on it," said Lynch, who added that he will continue in his present position at GSSW. "We feel the center's organizational structure, using the network of associates, will be very effective. It will be a center with a national reach, but without a lot of associated administrative costs."
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