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VUSM student earns HIV/AIDS fellowship

Mar. 19, 2015, 8:46 AM

Ishan Asokan

Third-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student Ishan Asokan has been selected as an inaugural member of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) Fellowship for students addressing HIV/AIDS and health disparities.

Asokan has been working at the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic (VCCC) since his first year of medical school and will be using the clinic as the site of his 10-week internship.

The EJAF fellowship seeks to destigmatize HIV and provide care to those who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Through the internship Asokan hopes to form a connection between VCCC and Nashville’s LGBTQ facility, OutCentral.

“One of the goals is to create a safe space and treatment facility for LGBT youth to access,” said Asokan. “It is really an empowerment project. We want to target at-risk adolescents between the ages of 20-24 and make sure that they have a haven to seek medical attention and receive necessary resources.

“We struggle to recognize that this community is one of the most affected by lack of care and at greatest risk of acquiring the virus, and resistance mutations due to faulty medication adherence. We are working closely with OutCentral on this project as we develop partnerships with other supporting organizations. It is so important to have the backing of established organizations here in Nashville,” Asokan said.

OutCentral, located in downtown Nashville, connects, educates and provides a community for the LGBT population.

The internship through EJAF will allow Asokan to learn more about health systems that care for vulnerable populations, an area that interests him.

“This experience is allowing me to be an integral partner in the delivery of health care,” he said.

“During my third year of medical school, I’ve been able to see my patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings, establishing the continuity of care I’d like to maintain as a future physician.

“Additionally, the award has allowed me to expand upon my existing skill set as an advocate for vulnerable populations.”

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