On March 25, 2016, I served as the operations chief for the Florida Department of Health’s (FDH) Hillsborough County Tuberculosis (TB) Center’s World TB Day event—one of the most exciting opportunities of my PHAP tenure. At the event, my TB program colleagues at FDH and I provided free TB screenings. We also offered free screenings for HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, along with select immunizations. To raise awareness about TB and to encourage people to attend the event, I did an interview with Telemundo (Telenoticias Tampa Bay) and developed a promotional flyer.
The goal of our World TB Day event was to reach underserved and at-risk populations in our community. In particular, we wanted to reach homeless persons, who can contract TB in congregate settings (e.g., homeless shelters, correctional facilities, safe havens), where disease can spread easily. For the event location, we chose the Trinity Café, a local gathering place that provides daily breakfast and lunch to hungry, homeless, and underfed residents.
During the event, participants were tested for sexually transmitted infections (68 for HIV, 79 for hepatitis, 85 for syphilis, and 83 for gonorrhea/chlamydia), 81 were tested for TB, and 41 received immunizations. Eight participants, all of whom reported being homeless and had a history of incarceration, tested positive for Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These participants are receiving follow-up care and treatment, or they are being encouraged to return for it.
Participating in this event was very gratifying because it afforded me the opportunity to help my host site establish, build, and strengthen its public health impact on communities in need.